PRESS STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, ON JULY 31, 2018. 

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, ON JULY 31, 2018. 

 

I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

 

This is not a decision that I have made lightly. If anything at all, I have tarried for so long and did all that was humanly possible, even in the face of great provocation, ridicule and flagrant persecution, to give opportunity for peace, reconciliation and harmonious existence.

 

Perhaps, more significantly, I am mindful of the fact that I carry on my shoulder a great responsibility for thousands of my supporters, political associates and friends, who have trusted in my leadership and have attached their political fortunes to mine. However, it is after an extensive consultation with all the important stakeholders that we have come to this difficult but inevitable decision to pitch our political tent elsewhere; where we could enjoy greater sense of belonging and where the interests of the greatest number of our Nigerians would be best served.

 

While I take full responsibility for this decision, I will like to emphasise that it is a decision that has been inescapably imposed on me by certain elements and forces within the APC who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist.

 

They have done everything to ensure that the basic rules of party administration, which should promote harmonious relations among the various elements within the party were blatantly disregarded. All governance principles which were required for a healthy functioning of the party and the government were deliberately violated or undermined. And all entreaties for justice, equity and fairness as basic precondition for peace and unity, not only within the party, but also the country at large, were simply ignored, or employed as additional pretext for further exclusion.

 

The experience of my people and associates in the past three years is that they have suffered alienation and have been treated as outsiders in their own party. Thus, many have become disaffected and disenchanted. At the same time, opportunities to seek redress and correct these anomalies were deliberately blocked as a government-within-a-government had formed an impregnable wall and left in the cold, everyone else who was not recognized as “one of us”. This is why my people, like all self-respecting people would do, decided to seek accommodation elsewhere.

 

I have had the privilege to lead the Nigerian legislature in the past three years as the President of the Senate and the Chairman of the National Assembly. The framers of our constitution envisage a degree of benign tension among the three arms of government if the principle of checks and balances must continue to serve as the building block of our democracy. In my role as the head of the legislature, and a leader of the party, I have ensured that this necessary tension did not escalate at any time in such a way that it could encumber Executive function or correspondingly, undermine the independence of the legislature. Over the years, I have made great efforts in the overall interest of the country, and in spite of my personal predicament, to manage situations that would otherwise have resulted in unsavoury consequences for the government and the administration. My colleagues in the Senate will bear testimony to this.

 

However, what we have seen is a situation whereby every dissent from the legislature was framed as an affront on the executive or as part of an agenda to undermine the government itself. The populist notion of anti-corruption became a ready weapon for silencing any form of dissent and for framing even principled objection as “corruption fighting back”. Persistent onslaught against the legislature and open incitement of the people against their own representatives became a default argument in defence of any short-coming of the government in a manner that betrays all too easily, a certain contempt for the Constitution itself or even the democracy that it is meant to serve.

 

Unfortunately, the self-serving gulf that has been created between the leadership of the two critical arms of government based on distrust and mutual suspicion has made any form of constructive engagement impossible. Therefore, anything short of a slavish surrender in a way that reduces the legislature to a mere rubber stamp would not have been sufficient in procuring the kind of rapprochement that was desired in the interest of all. But I have no doubt in my mind, that to surrender this way is to be complicit in the subversion of the institution that remains the very bastion of our democracy. I am a democrat. And I believe that anyone who lays even the most basic claim to being a democrat will not accept peace on those terms; which seeks to compromise the very basis of our existence as the parliament of the people.

 

The recent weeks have witnessed a rather unusual attempts to engage with some of these most critical issues at stake. Unfortunately, the discord has been allowed to fester unaddressed for too long, with dire consequences for the ultimate objective of delivering the common good and achieving peace and unity in our country. Any hope of reconciliation at this point was therefore very slim indeed. Most of the horses had bolted from the stable.

 

The emergence of a new national party executives a few weeks ago held out some hopes, however slender. The new party chairman has swung into action and did his best alongside some of the Governors of APC and His Excellency, the Vice President. I thank them for all their great efforts to save the day and achieve reconciliation. Even though I thought these efforts were coming late in the day, but seeing the genuine commitment of these gentlemen, I began to think that perhaps it was still possible to reconsider the situation.

 

However, as I have realized all along, there are some others in the party leadership hierarchy, who did not think dialogue was the way forward and therefore chose to play the fifth columnists. These individuals went to work and ensured that they scuttled the great efforts and the good intentions of these aforementioned leaders of the party. Perhaps, had these divisive forces not thrown the cogs in the wheel at the last minutes, and in a manner that made it impossible to sustain any trust in the process, the story today would have been different.

 

For me, I leave all that behind me. Today, I start as I return to the party where I began my political journey, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

 

When we left the PDP to join the then nascent coalition of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014, we left in a quest for justice, equity and inclusion; the fundamental principles on which the PDP was originally built but which it had deviated from. We were attracted to the APC by its promise of change. We fought hard along with others and defeated the PDP.

 

In retrospect, it is now evident that the PDP has learnt more from its defeat than the APC has learnt from its victory. The PDP that we return to is now a party that has learnt its lessons the hard way and have realized that no member of the party should be taken for granted; a party that has realized that inclusion, justice and equity are basic precondition for peace; a party that has realized that never again can the people of Nigeria be taken for granted.

 

I am excited by the new efforts, which seeks to build the reborn PDP on the core principles of promoting democratic values; internal democracy; accountability; inclusion and national competitiveness; genuine commitment to restructuring and devolution of powers; and an abiding belief in zoning of political and elective offices as an inevitable strategy for managing our rich diversity as a people of one great indivisible nation called Nigeria.

 

What we have all agreed is that a deep commitment to these ideals were not only a demonstration of our patriotism but also a matter of enlightened self-interest, believing that our very survival as political elites of this country will depend on our ability to earn the trust of our people and in making them believe that, more than anything else, we are committed to serving the people.

 

What the experience of the last three years have taught us is that the most important task that we face as a country is how to reunite our people. Never before had so many people in so many parts of our country felt so alienated from their Nigerianness. Therefore, we understand that the greatest task before us is to reunite the county and give everyone a sense of belonging regardless of region or religion.

 

Every Nigerian must have an instinctive confidence that he or she will be treated with justice and equity in any part of the country regardless of the language they speak or how they worship God. This is the great task that trumps all. Unless we are able to achieve this, all other claim to progress no matter how defined, would remain unsustainable.

 

This is the task that I am committing myself to and I believe that it is in this PDP, that I will have the opportunity to play my part. It is my hope that the APC will respect the choice that I have made as my democratic right, and understand that even though we will now occupy a different political space, we do not necessarily become enemies unto one another.

 

Thank you.

 

Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON

President of the Senate

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, AT THE 3-DAY PUBLIC HEARING ON THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY BILLS, HELD AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY COMPLEX, ABUJA – JUNE 4, 2018.

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, AT THE 3-DAY PUBLIC HEARING ON THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY BILLS, HELD AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY COMPLEX, ABUJA – JUNE 4, 2018.pub, PIGB, 

 

PROTOCOL.

 

1. It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this 3-Day Public Hearing organised by the Senate Committee on the Downstream Petroleum Sector for the consideration of the Petroleum Industry Bills.

 

2. Specifically, this Public Hearing seeks further input on: the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill 2018; the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill 2018; and the Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Bill 2018. Together, the Bills are part of a combo that was virtually comatose for over a decade as the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), before we took the radical approach of breaking the single Bill into workable parts, for greater ease of passage into law.

 

3. As some of you may recall, the 8th Senate had promised to set in motion an agenda for the comprehensive reform of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, and to do so through an unbundled package of Bills. Our reform agenda is driven by the need to overhaul a system that has led to corruption being endemic in the petroleum industry.

 

4. We are also motivated by the desire to usher in an internationalised framework that allows Nigeria to compete globally in terms of this industry. This would lead to the development of the local market; and the efficient use of this depleting resource, the ebb and flow of which have been so indelibly tied to the economy of the country. It is high time we stabilised the system, and to stabilise it for good.

 

5. With all this in mind, we took two critical decisions when we commenced work in the 8th Senate in 2015:

 

i. The first was to split the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into five (5) Bills, namely: the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill, the Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Bill, and the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill.

 

ii. The second decision was to encourage private member sponsorship of the Bills.

 

6. We recently passed the PIGB but at point of harmonization review, certain minor observations were made which we immediately directed our conference committee to act on. We are hopeful to have it back on the floor for adoption in a week. It is my expectation that, when work is concluded on the trio of Bills under consideration at this hearing, the Senate will start the process on the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill, which would reshape how we utilise the resources we earn from oil and gas.

 

7. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, permit me to outline the key provisions of the Bills under consideration at this Public Hearing. The objective of the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill is to transform the administration of the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the Nigerian petroleum industry:

 

i. Firstly, the Bill creates a framework that will free up acreages that are not being developed by current license and lease holders, thereby creating opportunities for new investors. This will bring substantial new investment to our oil and gas industry.

 

ii. Secondly, it ensures effective management of the environment by petroleum operators and administrators.

 

iii. Thirdly, it provides a framework to unleash midstream activities which will open up the market for the supply of gas and other downstream products, for economic growth. Above all, I believe the most important feature of this Bill is that it provides much needed legal backing for the deregulation of our downstream petroleum sector.

 

8. Regrettably, our existing fiscal framework for the petroleum industry is outdated. The Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill, therefore, aims to fix the anomalies, especially with regard to our royalty and tax regimes. For instance, billions of dollars have been lost through non-invocation of provisions in subsisting laws, at those times when crude oil price crosses certain thresholds. The Bill will fix this as well as remove difficulties and uncertainties surrounding our tax assessment and collection system. Additionally, it will remove distortions created by the Associated Gas Framework Agreement; and provide comprehensive fiscal terms for the development of our abundant natural gas resources. Perhaps the most critical objective of the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill is that it will enhance our international competitiveness and make Nigeria a choice destination for oil and gas investors.

 

9. Last but not least, is the Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Bill, which provides for a legal framework for the development of the petroleum host and impacted communities. It is a pan-Nigeria Bill that will cater for communities that are hosts to upstream assets, as well as significant midstream and downstream assets and infrastructure.

 

10. The Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Bill is unique because it overcomes the pitfalls of past efforts; and is structured to bring funding for the development of host communities, under the direct control of the communities themselves. We expect the Bill to make for greater harmony and partnership among the various stakeholders in the sector. I urge everyone to pay particular attention to presentations by representatives of host communities.

 

 

11. In closing, let me state that the outcome of this Public Hearing is very important to our economy and to the livelihood of all Nigerians as well as the interests of investors. We have the task of delivering these Bills which, together, will enhance the growth of our oil and gas industry, modernise our fiscal system and enhance competitiveness, while creating harmony for all stakeholders.

 

 

12. It is our expectation that, with your active participation, we will have Bills that truly reflect the aspirations of Nigerians. We have an opportunity to show that the momentous passage of the PIGB was by no means a one-off. Let us power ahead with the radical transformation of our oil and gas sector.

 

 

13. On that note, I wish you successful deliberations, as I now formally declare open the Public Hearing on the Petroleum Industry Bills.

 

 

Thank you.

 

THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

Press Release: Saraki Inaugurates Nigeria/Morocco Parliamentary Friendship Group

Press Release

October 4, 2017

 

Saraki Inaugurates Nigeria/Morocco Parliamentary Friendship Group

 

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday inaugurated the Nigeria-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship Group and described the body as a veritable instrument to deepen integration among nations globally.

 

According to a statement by the Special Assistant to the President of the Senate on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, Saraki also said that the integration process in Africa is a process that its time has come.

 

He stated that the inauguration of the Friendship relationship would open a gateway for strategic partnership especially with the pipeline and fertilizer agreements signed in Rabat in May 2017.

 

He said that the two agreements have continental dimension as their successes will be a major milestone for the region.

 

“The economic advantage of our unity is the gas pipeline project for which cooperation agreement has been signed,” Saraki said. “The integration of Africa into the global energy equation has come to stay and Nigeria and Morocco have a strategic role to play to economically link Africa to Europe and other consumer nations.”

 

He added: “The multi-billion dollar OCP (Morocco) and FESPAN (Nigeria) agreement on the production of fertilizer will have an effect on the economy of the region as a whole. It will allow agricultural development which will create greater prosperity, improve food security and eradicate hunger.

 

“It is expected that the public and private sectors of both countries would collaborate to leverage on the abundant opportunities to create sustainable economic growth in the region.

 

“I have no doubt in my mind that Nigeria and Morocco’s relationship is at all-time best, thus we must do everything possible to maintain and strengthen this unique cooperation.

 

“Following my visit to the President of the House of Councilors in Rabat in the month of March this year, H.E. Mr. Hakim Benchamach and I discussed how to deepen parliamentary cooperation between Nigeria and Morocco in order to support our executive arm of governments.

 

“We came to the conclusion that setting up an effective parliamentary friendship group at the parliament of both countries is a good starting point. I am happy that we have kept this promise and moving towards the brighter side of our relationship.

 

“Another issue that came up during my visit to Rabat that is relevant to what we are doing here today, was the possibility of setting up an inter-continental forum of parliaments in Africa and Latin America through a joint parliamentary action within the framework of South-South cooperation.

 

“This committee can consider taking up such an agenda to discuss the pros and cons and the overall benefit to our people particularly in achieving our sustainable development agenda.

 

“As an inter-parliamentary group, I expect all members of the Nigeria-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship Group to foster the development of friendship between our two countries and develop close relations and cooperation between our parliaments.

 

“Our role as parliamentarians is to formulate legislations that will build on the already blooming relationship between our countries and create ripple effects across Africa. I want to urge you to put in your best, sacrifice time and always look for compromise to move our relationship forward,” Saraki said.

 

Earlier, the Chairman of the Friendship Group, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who is also the deputy president of the Senate said that the inauguration of the group was part of the parliamentary efforts to cement the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and Morocco.

 

The leader of the Moroccan delegation, Mr. Abdellatif Hafidi, commended the Senate for spear heading the formation of the group, stating that it is for the mutual benefits of both countries.

 

He also described the parliamentary group as a Friendship between two equals that has the interest of its people at heart.

 

END

 

Signed

 

Chuks Okocha

Special Assistant (Print Media) to the President of the Senate

 

 

GOODWILL MESSAGE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON NIGERIA-MOROCCO PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDSHIP GROUP.

GOODWILL MESSAGE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON NIGERIA-MOROCCO PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDSHIP GROUP AT SENATE CONFERENCE ROOM 0.22, WEDNESDAY 4TH OCTOBER 2017.

 

Protocol,

1. I am highly delighted to deliver a goodwill message on the occasion of the inauguration of the Senate Committee on Nigeria-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship Group. I welcome all members to this important event.

 

2. Distinguished colleagues, Nigeria and Morocco are two of the greatest countries in the North-West African region. Our individual history, positions, importance as leaders in the continent, logically prompts us to combine efforts and economies for a sustainable development of the continent.

 

3. Following King Mohammed VI’s royal visit to President Muhamadu Buhari in December 2016, the two countries have enjoyed several bilateral trade and economic relations. The relationship has opened a gate way to very strategic partnerships especially with the pipeline and fertilizer agreements signed in Rabat in May 2017. These two agreements have continental scope and dimension as their success will be a major milestone for the region. The economic advantage of our unity is the gas pipeline project for which cooperation agreement has been signed.

 

4. The integration of Africa into the global energy equation has come to stay and Nigeria and morocco have a strategic role to play to economically link Africa to Europe and other consumer nations.

 

5. The multi-billion dollar OCP (Morocco) and FESPAN (Nigeria) agreement on the production of fertilizer will have an effect on the economy of the region as a whole. It will allow agricultural development which will creategreater prosperity, improve food security and eradicate hunger. It is expected that the public and private sectors of both countries would collaborate to leverage on the abundant opportunities to create sustainable economic growth in the region. I have no doubt in my mind that Nigeria and Morocco’s relationship is at all-time best, thus we must do everything possible to maintain and strengthen this unique cooperation.

 

6. Following my visit to the President of the House of Councilors in Rabat in the month of March this year, H.E. Mr. Hakim Benchamach and I discussed how to deepen parliamentary cooperation between Nigeria and Morocco in order to support our executive arm of governments. We came to the conclusion that setting up an effective parliamentary friendship group at the parliament of both countries is a good starting point. I am happy that we have kept this promise and moving towards the brighter side of our relationship. Another issue that came up during my visit to Rabat that is relevant to what we are doing here today, was the possibility of setting up an inter-continental forum of parliaments in Africa and Latin America through a joint parliamentary action within the framework of south-south cooperation. This committee can consider taking up such an agenda to discuss the pros and cons and the overall benefit to our people particularly in achieving our sustainable development agenda.

 

7. As an inter-parliamentary group I expect all members of the Nigeria-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship group to foster the development of friendship between our two countries and develop close relations and cooperation between our parliaments. Our role as parliamentarians is to formulate legislations that will build on the already blooming relationship between our countries and create ripple effects across the Africa. I want to urge you to put in your best, sacrifice time and always look for compromise to move our relationship forward.

 

8. This committee hereby stands inaugurated on this day the 4th October 2017.

 

9. I wish you successful deliberations and hope our visitors from the Moroccan parliament will relish the ambience of the Capital city of Abuja and its diverse mixture of Nigeria’s cultures.

 

10. Thank you and God Bless

God Bless the National Assembly

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

 

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE LEGISLATIVE NETWORK FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE

SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE LEGISLATIVE NETWORK FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE,ON MONDAY 24TH JULY, 2017.

 

Protocols;

 

1. It gives me great pleasure to be here at this occasion for the launching of the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This platform is indeed remarkable as it aims to strengthen institutional cooperation to advance legislative activities on health matters.

 

2. The importance of this framework cannot be overstated, as our major role as legislators is to promote the welfare of our citizens; to ensure that effective healthcare systems are available to allNigerians. This informed the desire to draw in the cooperative efforts of both the National and State Assemblies targeted at developing health strategies that will work effectively for all. This for me is another rare opportunity for us to ensure that the legislative effort in both the National and State Assemblies are moving towards the same direction.

 

3. I commend the respective Chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Health for uniting with leadership of Health Committees in the States to create this Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage with the support of the Health Governance Group of USAID.

 

4. As it is said, a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. In our efforts to revive the wealth of our nation, thehealth of our people must remain paramount. We must therefore, strive to situate our health resources to optimally serve our population.

 

5. As a nation, we have opted to adopt the Universal Health Coverage which seeks “to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.”

 

6. The poor access to good healthcare in our country especially in the rural areas is a challenge we must tackle through innovative thinking and dedication. Going by a World Bank report, the state of the Nigerian health system is dysfunctional and grossly under-funded with a per capita expenditure of US$ 9.44. Therefore, addressing the issues in financing healthcare in a sustainable manner to reach all Nigerians call for the harmonization of legislative actions at both the National and States levels.

 

7. While “the overall objective of this Summit is to launch a national Legislative Network on UHC, the specific objectives will enhance the knowledge base and understanding of strategies in the legislature,geared towards achieving the goals of Universal Health Coverage.

 

8. Finally, it is my hope that this framework will bring about the effective healthcare systems we envisionfor our country.

 

9. I wish you all success in your deliberations.

 

10. Thank you and God bless us all.

 

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

 

REMARKS BY H.E. (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE 2ND YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE 8TH SENATE TODAY JUNE 9TH 2017.

REMARKS BY H.E. (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE 2ND YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE 8TH SENATE TODAY JUNE 9TH 2017.

 

PROTOCOL

 

 

1. Distinguished colleagues, our invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am immensely pleased to welcome you to this special session on the second anniversary of the 8th Senate. Let me begin by thanking all of you my wonderful colleagues for the exemplary and unflinching support you have given to me and the entire leadership of the Senate thus far. Every one of you deserve to be singled out and acknowledged individually for your remarkable commitment and oneness of spirit. I thank you most especially for the sacrifices and your perseverance that has seen the Senate succeed thus far.

 

2. I cannot fail to mention in particular the support and partnership I have enjoyed with our ever-amiable and dependable DSP H.E Ike Ekweremadu(the Ikeoha ndigbo), our Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan for his immeasurable industry and broadmindedness, our minority leader, H.E Senator, Godswill Akpabio and the entire leadership of the Senate. Thank you all for the bipartisanship, vision, patriotism, fraternity and solidarity.

 

3. Distinguished Colleagues, our invited guests, today is an historical day for many reasons. First of all, today marks a celebration of our deliberative democracy and the immense opportunity to be part of an enduring legacy of political tolerance, engagement, participation and commitment. We are two year on this saddle and it has been two years of productive lawmaking period.

 

4. While acknowledging the great work our predecessors had done before us, let me put on record that this current Senate has made progress on every front and therefore deserve to mark this day as a special day.

 

5. When we started, I knew that the 8th Senate was going to be significantly different and effective. I saw across the aisle, a passionate, energetic and a set of leaders made of sterner stuff, and a desire to make the difference. Though we inherited a legacy that created in some minds cynicism and despondency, we were undeterred irrespective of an unending barrage of virulent attacks and unprovoked aggression, the 8th Senate matched on, together erasing records and setting new ones. Today, the 8th Senate haspassed 96 bills and 72 petitions in just 2years eclipsing the highest ever in the history of the National Assembly, a record held by the 5th Senate after passing about 65 bills and 6 petitions respectively within the same time period.

 

6. The 8th Senate has led with courage and taken up more hot-button- national and legislative issues and successfully dealt with them. We committed ourselves to greater openness and accountability and many doubted our capacity to do as we preach. But we have led from the frontline on the war against corruption, having passed several corruption-exposing resolutions that have saved our government billions of naira cumulatively. Today, in keeping with our pledge, the National Assembly has opened its line-by-line Itemed budget to the world (a first in the history of the National Assembly).

 

7. I sincerely congratulate every one of you for putting in the shift to ensure we realized these milestones. Indeed, there have been many more. We have taken on the toughest bills and challenges affecting our unity, the welfare and security of our people and the necessary platform for a greater Nigerian economy. From the Nigerian Railway Bill, the Public Procurement Act Amendment, the Nigerian Ports & Harbour Bill, the National Road Funds Bill, the National Transport Commission Bill, the National Inland Waterways Bill and the Federal Roads Bill, the Competition and Consumer Protection Bill, the Investment & Securities Act Amendment, the Companies and Allied Matters Act Amendment, the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Bill, the Independent Warehouse Regulatory Bill, the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act (Repeal & RE-enactment) Bill, the Electronic Transactions Bill and the Nigerian Postal Commission Bill all of these and many more have been the highest compendium of economic reforms ever undertaken by any administration in the history of our country. But we are taking it and one by one we are laying the foundation for a new Nigerian economy to emerge. One that is empowering the private sector and liberal.

 

8. Distinguished colleagues, our invited guests, today, the 8th Senate is laying markers and engraving its legacy in time by championing several first and providing the legislature with audacity. On the issue of opening the lawmaking process we have not been afraid to push the boundaries of convention, that is why the 8th Senate can be credited to initiated the first-ever National Assembly Joint Public Hearing on the Budget; the 8th Senate broke the 12year jinx on the PIB by passing the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) that will reform the NNPC and return accountability in the petroleum industry. The 8th Senate scored another first as it become the first Senate to unveil and pursue a self-developed economic reform agenda to aid the ease of doing business in Nigeria and create new frameworks for creating jobs and improving Nigeria’ ranking in the global competitiveness index.

 

9. On choice of bills to pass and be focused on, we have for the first time after many decades of trying passed bills that will see us reform the big elephant in the room (the NNPC), also, the Nigerian railway corporation, FERMA, the maritime regulatory institutions, including the Corporate Affairs Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission are other critical general market regulatory structures that we have undertaken and are working very hard to pass into law through a well-orchestrated and comprehensive legislative policy framework. This would enable theNigerian market join the league of nations and compete favourably as a destination for foreign direct investment and for ease of doing business.

 

10. All of these we have done because we know and we believe that in order to create millions of employments quickly, give more opportunities to our people as well as get the full potential of our diversification of the economy policy on the one hand and close the gap on our infrastructure deficit we needed to get rid of our old and obsolete laws and enact new laws that have the right modern and intellectual mix.

 

11. My Distinguished colleagues, I want to thank you again, for the great lawmaking environment that is empowering and genuinely fraternal and less divisive. This has enabled us focus a lot more on the work than on politics ensuring that our people are the ultimate beneficiaries of our time and energy. Today, we can be rest assured that though it may take a while to gestate, the initiatives we have started here will endure and bloom; from the made-in-Nigeria initiative, to infrastructure renewal framework to the access to finance initiative, all of these will come together to lay the new foundation on which the Nigerian economy for the better part of the 21stcentury will be built.

 

12. My distinguished colleagues and friends, we have come a long way. I remember asking you to make sacrifices and more sacrifices. You answered my call emphatically and through hard work and commitmentwe have come this far, together. And I say thank you.

 

13. Though, it has been a rough journey you have remained undaunted. Together, we have walked through the turbulence and in the last two years shown that with determination and courage of conviction we can get the job done. I am here to tell you that your sacrifices have not been in vain. Your steadfastness has paid dividend and if we keep at it, we will be delivering very soon to the Nigerian people a holistic legislative reform package that would see us enter a new era of prosperity built upon a solid legal foundation that would transform our economy, deepen our democracy, close our infrastructure deficit, grow and add millions of newjobs and help activate enterprise and reward innovation.

 

14. I would like to end this address by appealing to every Nigerian citizen to be patient with the current administration of President Buhari. This government is sincerely disposed to turning things around but in a much more enduring manner. Let us pray to God to grant our President full recovery and give him the fortitude to continue to pilot the affair of state in the vision he has started with. as for us in the Senate we are firmly and fully committed to his leadership and will continue to do all in our power to support and give him all the encouragement to lead us into a strong united and more virile nation.

 

15. I must also use this opportunity to thank our Acting President, Prof. Oluyemi Osinbajo, for his providing leadership and character and leading with conviction. Together with the executive this Senate is committed to continue to support our government and the Nigerian people all the way. We will not relent in our commitment to the enthronement of a strong and resilient Nigerian economy capable of ensuring the welfare and protection of every Nigerian irrespective of his ethnic group, political affiliation, sex or religious creed.

 

16. We must eschew bigotry, tribalism and see each other as one and together build a new Nigeria of our dreams.

 

17. May God bless Nigeria.

 

Thank you.

Press Release: Ethnic Agitations: Saraki Appeals For Tolerance Among Nigerians

Press Release 

June 7, 2017

 

Ethnic Agitations: Saraki Appeals For Tolerance Among Nigerians

 

Amid rising ethnic agitations in some parts of the country, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has called on Nigerians to tolerate each other and display understanding because there is strength in unity.

 

Saraki spoke when the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern States and Abuja, led by its Chairman, Rev. Yakubu Pam, visited him at the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

In statement by his Special Assistant on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, the Senate President said: “Let me through you appeal to all our people for tolerance and understanding. I want to appeal that we preach tolerance. I believe that it is our responsibility as leaders, to impress on our people to be very tolerant and let us seek unity.

 

“We also wish to appeal to everybody that we should in our speeches and actions work for the unity of the country, because you made reference to some of the issues but this is not about who is right or who is wrong, we should always ask ourselves that what can we do to unite our people and mend the fault lines.

 

“This is very important. I am hopeful, that we are only going through these challenges because of the state of our economy and I believe by the time the economic recovery plan of the present administration begins to yield fruits, some of these issues will fizzle out,” Saraki said.

 

On the economy, Saraki said: “I believe by the time we address the economy, by the time we get the economy right, it will eliminate all these tension. Until we get there, we must make sure that we have a country where we are all working together.

 

“Let me assure you that things that are of concern to you are also of concern to us. And the 8th Senate has shown that in most of our deliberations, we put Nigeria first. The challenges we have in Nigeria are not selective as to which part of the country a person comes from.

 

“The economic challenges do not discriminate against Muslims or Christians, nor do they favour Northerners against Southerners. I think with that, there are lessons. The economic hardship affect all of us and we must unite to jointly eliminate those challenges.

 

“However, we should not lose faith because as religious leaders your disposition affect will affect your followers. You must have faith that this country belongs to all of us. We all have rights. We will ensure that we respect that. We must have faith that this country will continue to grow from strength to strength. I plead for your understanding and tolerance,” he said.

 

Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Rev. Pam, expressed concern over the series of agitations by some interest groups who are calling for restructuring and raising allegations of marginalization.

 

“I heard this morning that some people are asking some people to leave the Northern part of the country. This kind of comments and utterances should not be encouraged,” he said.

 

He further said, “To us, the hour has come for government to take a second look at the causes of these agitations so that all sides can be given a sense of belonging in the scheme of things in the country. We need all hands to be joined together to move this country forward.”

 

On the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers, Rev. Pam said, “Cattle rearing is a private business and as such herders should be educated on the modern way of handling their cattle rearing business so that their cattle should not be let loose into farms of the locals in different parts of the country in order to put an end to frequent clashes between the herdsmen and the local farmers”.

 

The Northern CAN President called on the National Assembly to pass a law that would guarantee freedom of worship for all faiths and re-introduction of religious education in the school curriculum, even as he appealed to the that the Senate to intervene to stop attacks on places of worship in some parts of the Northern states.

 

He also lamented the incidence of forced marriages against under aged girls, saying, “We want to make an appeal that the Senate should look into this social problem so that it would not lead to break down of law and order in some parts of the country especially from those considered to be victims of this social malaise,” he said.

 

 

 

END

 

Signed

 

Chuks Okocha

Special Assistant (Print Media) to the Senate President

Press Release: Saraki: How To Achieve Energy Security In Nigeria

Press Release

June 2, 2017

Saraki: How To Achieve Energy Security In Nigeria

 

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Friday, listed steps that need to be taken to achieve energy security in the country that would lead to safe environment and uplift the social economic wellbeing of the people.

 

Saraki gave the recommendations in his speech at a one day workshop on the State of Energy Security in Nigeria, organized by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) climate policy and energy security programme for sub-Saharan Africa in Lagos.

 

He said that the country must look inwards to provide the required capital to invest in energy infrastructure by reforming the administration of current major source of revenue, improving other revenue generating sectors and instituting an economic diversification framework that could initiate a stepwise transition to a green economic development pathway.

 

 

Represented by his Chief of Staff, Hakeem Baba Ahmed, the Senate President, said it is key for the country to deepen strategic partnerships with countries that have more experience and resources to build capacity for policy coherence and technology transfer in order to generate made in Nigeria energy access innovations to grow the Naira.

He said while the 8th National Assembly firmly holds that the supply of adequate and affordable energy mix is essential, it should be a complimentary means to achieve energy security.

 

Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, said: “Nigeria must deepen strategic partnerships with countries that have more experience and resources to build our capacity for policy coherence and technology transfer to generate made in Nigeria energy access innovations to grow the Naira.

 

“The 8th National Assembly and the Senate under my leadership believes that the supply of adequate and affordable energy mix is essential in the 21st century, and there cannot be any pretense about this.

 

“But it should be a complimentary means to achieve energy security because energy security can only be achieved through adequate investments that are coherent and consistent.

 

“Looking inwards to provide the required capital to invest in energy infrastructure means (1) reforming the administration of our current major source of revenue, (2) improving other revenue generating sectors and (3) instituting an economic diversification framework that could initiate a stepwise transition to a green economic development pathway. I believe that this is the best way to go if we truly want to achieve sustainable energy security in Nigeria,” he said.

 

He further stated that since revenue derived from oil is highly volatile, fixing gaps leading to revenue leakages in the petroleum industry need to be addressed before implementing any policy for energy sufficiency and sustainability.

 

He said that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) by the 8th Senate is meant to reform the oil industry and make it more revenue efficient and investment friendly.

 

 

“Nigeria’s mono-economic revenue profile derived from oil is highly volatile as it depends on global oil price shocks thereby affecting government budgetary framework and by extension, the entire economy,” Saraki said. “Therefore, fixing the lacuna in the oil and gas sector have to be tackled first before implementing any policy frameworks and reforms that can give a robust energy base for the nation.

 

“As a result, last week Thursday, the 8th Senate made history by breaking a 17 years jinx by passing the first part of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill for the reform of the petroleum industry.

 

“The bill established a framework for the creation of commercially oriented and profit-driven petroleum entities that fosters a conducive business environment for the petroleum industry operations that ensures value addition, promote transparency and accountability in the administration of petroleum resources of Nigeria.

 

“The bill applies to the rights, interests, obligations and liabilities of the petroleum industry in Nigeria and establishes a regulatory commission, the Ministry of Petroleum Incorporated, the National Petroleum Company, the Nigeria Asset Management Company and a Fund which shall defray expenditures of the commission,” he said.

 

 

The Senate President stated that if a village of less than 10000 inhabitants in Feldheim can cooperate to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy supply, states in Nigeria can replicate the feet by partnering with the private sector.

 

He said that his vision is for the country to liberalize the energy situation in such a way that all segments of the populace can have uninterrupted access to power to support and uplift their social, economic and educational wellbeing.

 

He said: “In March this year, I visited the 100% Renewable energy village of Feldheim near Berlin and was impressed by the fact that a small village of less than 1000 people was able to form an energy cooperative that generate energy from renewable sources such that surpluses are sold to the national grid. That experience was an eye-opener for my delegation that if a small village in Germany can develop such an energy model, why can’t one state in Nigeria do it in partnership with the private sector?

 

“The 8th National Assembly is working hard to pass the necessary laws to achieve energy security and we will continue to do this with effective support from partners like everyone in this room.

 

“We acknowledge that in order to fundamentally create a robust and secure energy base, strategic and deliberate government policy both short and long terms that will guarantee the present and future energy needs is necessary.

 

“Together we can help liberalize the energy situation in Nigeria in such a way that the rural woman can cook with a clean cookstove and fuel; the school pupil can wake up at night and have light to do his/her home-work; the farmer can power coolers to preserve his/her milk and prevent post-harvest losses; the barber and hair-dresser can make more money with regular energy access; the industrialist will no longer want to close shop and move to Ghana,” he said.

 

END

 

Signed 

 

Sanni Onogu

Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President

 

Press Release: Saraki to IDPs: Government Will Not Forget You

Press Release

May 31, 2017

 

Saraki to IDPs: Government Will Not Forget You

…Visits Camp In Abuja

 

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has assured Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in some parts of the country that government will continue work to ensure their security, social and economic wellbeing as well as safe return to their homesteads.

 

Saraki who said the government will not forget the displaced persons was speaking when he led a Senate delegation on a visit to the IDP camp at Kuchigoro, near the Games Village, Abuja, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja.

 

The delegation was received by the evangelist of the camp, Mr. Jude Kaghala and other leaders of the camp.

 

The Senate President also donated food items including rice and toiletries for distribution to inhabitants of the camp and said while the executive was working in collaboration with the legislature to rehabilitate and resettle the IDPs in their original communities, it will ensure that their life is made better on a daily basis.

 

“We have not forgotten you and we will not forget you,” Saraki said. “We will continue to work to ensure that you return to your individual villages and towns. But while you are here, we will ensure that your life is made better everyday.

 

“This is why we decided to come and identify with you, to know how you are coping and to comfort you. We share your pains and we are doing what needs to be done to make your towns and villages habitable once again. We will make sure you live a better life.”

 

Senators that accompany Saraki on the visit to the Kuchigoro IDPs camp, include Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, Philip Aduda, Abubakar Kyari, Mohammed Hassan and Baba Kaka Garbai.

 

Earlier the Evangelist of the Camp, Mr. Khagala thanked the Senate President and his team for the visit and the food items and toiletries he donated for use by the IDPs.

 

He promised that the rice, soaps, deodorants and body spray he donated will be evenly distributed among the IDPs, especially the pregnant women and children. He said the food could not have come at a better time than this Ramadan period.

 

While praying for the Senate President and his delegation for the august visit and donation of items to alleviate their plight, he called on other well-meaning individuals in society to emulate the Senate President’s kind and fatherly gesture.

 

“We are honoured to receive you in our midst today. We want to thank Mr. Senate President and all the distinguished Senators for this visit. We also thank the Senate President for the rice and all the other items he has donated to us.

 

“We will distribute them to our people here to help them as they partake in the Ramadan fast. We cannot thank him and the Senate enough. We also thank you for the work the Senate has done in passing a bill to create the North East Development Commission. We pray the Almighty Allah to reward you,” Kaghala said.

 

END

 

Signed

 

Sanni Onogu

Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President

 

My interview with @MaupeO of Channels TV on the program Hard Copy

My interview with @MaupeO of Channels TV on the program Hard Copy, where I discussed about #OpenNASS, the fight against corruption led by President Mohammadu Buhari, Electronic Voting in National Assembly and need to strengthen institutions to sustain the fight against corruption.