SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON), PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE OPENING OF A RETREAT FOR THE MANAGEMENT STAFF OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to this year’s National Assembly Management retreat and I thank the organisers for putting together this retreat.
The National Assembly has been established not only as the highest law-making institution but more important, as the enabler of the executive to provide for the welfare and security of our people. At no time in our history has the need for synergy of purpose and drive to embrace and give full effect to this obligation been more acute than now. This present National Assembly is fully committed to this obligation and it is in you that we will rely on to play our role effectively.
The 8th National Assembly has made economic reform the anchor of its legislative activities so far. The role of a virile National Assembly management fully dedicated and adequately tooled for the mission cannot then be over emphasized.
It is you, this 5000 or there about management staff of National Assembly that are responsible for ensuring that our legislative agenda is fully realised. This you do by helping to turn the legislative decisions we make on the floor into actionable legislative instruments, with tangible impact on our people.
Therefore, in a very special way, I thank you all for your support, dedication and hard work so far. We cannot quantify your immense contribution to this course.
Notwithstanding, there are greater tasks ahead and we need more support to achieve our overarching objectives. We hope then that this retreat will further enable you and prepare you towards greater productivity. This is a chance for colleagues to get to know each other and look with new eyes on the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for us as a primer of government.
As we all know, this is a critical time for us as a nation. We are going through difficult times, recession, security issues, widespread hunger, unemployment, incessant rises in inflation, dwindling opportunities. The nation looks up to National Assembly for direction and to provide opportunities for our people. It has become quite apparent to us that it is no longer business as usual.
It is against this background, that it is imperative that management is fit for the task ahead of us and lives up to its responsibilities – to deliver coherent, effective, and efficient support as we pursue our vision for the development of the country of the Nigerian economy into one of the most diversified and very inclusive economies in Africa. Our overarching goal is to place the Nigerian economy on the path to sustainable growth, poverty elimination, economic opportunities, deal squarely with corruption and tackle injustices around us. The 8th National Assembly places premium on the efficacy of the National Assembly staff productivity as they remain its best hope of achieving this agenda. But you, the management must also ensure staff commitment and dedication to the task.
As legislators, we acknowledge that the achievements of these agendas are not possible without the co-operation of Management. In a world of growing challenges and vulnerability, we cannot afford not to stand together. To work in isolation or let personal interests stand in the way of harnessing the many strengths in our structure would be doing dis-service to the people we serve.
Let me be blunt here. Unless we are not being honest to ourselves, the Nigerians are not happy with the way the National Assembly have carried on so far and are right to deserve better from this very important institution. Unless we change the work, ethic and inculcate greater transparency in both accountability and output we will not earn their respect. We cannot carry on in any other way and expect that we will be able to deliver better oversight of others.
It is time to show that National Assembly is ready to play its role as a primer of development and the watchdog for the sustenance of democracy. We cannot be seen in the same light as in past times. We need to sanitize our structure and lead by example. Management accountability and transparency is now paramount. Indiscipline and laxity can no longer be tolerated. Obedience to laws in force as it relates to anti-corruption most especially enforced.
Finally, I have just one task for this retreat which is also a plea. The task I place before you is to come up with solutions for improving National Assembly. There is no doubt that we need to take the work ethos far higher than we have today. We need your innovative ideas that will ultimately attract the best brains work and be retained here. I look forward to receiving solid and actionable recommendations. I count on you to bring your bright ideas to discussions so that we can make a difference for our families, communities and our country as a whole.
We have a task to work to build a new National Assembly that is respected at home and recognised abroad both as an example for efficiency, productivity and transparency. This is the minimum we aspire. We are not going to allow anyone detract from this bare aspiration and we will be demanding that you stay on this course for the remainder of our term. With dedication and discipline, this new structure is not so far from our reach. Let’s redouble our effort and I have no doubt that we will succeed.
Let me take it that the line has been drawn and the past is gone. That means from henceforth it can never be business as usual. We must therefore come up with the requisite resolve that we are tuned in to the change agenda and are ready to deliver a major shift in both work attitude, accountability and public relations. Anyone who is not ready to turn the page should ensure to let us know so we can make alternative arrangement because we have no other choice but to ensure that a new National Assembly is delivered to our people who have asked for change.
I wish you the very best for a productive retreat, and I look forward to hearing the results and seeing a new, better, strong and dynamic team with the passionate drive to deliver on our goals. I am proud to work closely with you in promoting and defending our shared values.
Thank you and God bless us all.
(DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA