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

Press Release: Senate Seeks Urgent End to Alleged Slave Trade Activities in Libya

Press Release

November 29, 2017

Senate Seeks Urgent End to Alleged Slave Trade Activities in Libya

…It is a ‘Slap in the Face’, Says Saraki

The Senate on Wednesday, called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to invite the Libyan Ambassador to Nigeria and discuss how to end the ongoing Libyan slave trade which allegedly involves the sale of Africans, some of them of Nigerian descent, as slaves.

In a motion titled: “Urgent Need to Protect Nigerian Citizens from the Libya Slavery Auctions,” which was sponsored by Senator Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai, the Senate called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to use the opportunity of the ongoing European Union and African Union (EU-AU) Summit in Abidjan to table the matter before the Libyan delegation.

In his comments, President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, said: “As a country it is a slap in the face if Nigerians can be treated in this manner. Other countries are taking necessary actions to bring back their citizens from that troubled country. We need to be doing similar things. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs must immediately summon the Libyan Ambassador here in Nigeria to explain what is happening, so that we can bring an end to this situation.”

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, speaking on the Motion, submitted that the Senate must urge Governments at all levels in Africa to take steps to ameliorate the economic hardship that is fueling the migration crises.

Speaking on the motion, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, said: “The time has come as a country to look into this issue. The Nigerian Ambassador to Libya must be invited to explain why this slavery auction has been going on unabated.”

“It is high time that we resorted to citizen diplomacy in Nigeria,” said Senator Dino Melaye, contributing to the motion, “The Nigerian government must not only take the life of every Nigerian seriously, it must also defend its citizens wherever they are in the world.”

Signed:

Media Office of the President of the Senate

Press Release: Senate to Partner EU in Fight Against Illegal Migration 

Press Release 

November 3, 2017

 

Senate to Partner EU in Fight Against Illegal Migration 

 

President of the Senate Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has expressed the willingness of the National Assembly to support efforts being made by the Federal Government and the European Union (EU) to mitigate the rising incidence of illegal migration into European countries.

 

Saraki who stated this when the new EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen, visited him in Abuja, also stressed the need for quick resolution of all pending agreements between Nigeria and EU on migration issues.

 

In a statement by the Head, International Relations to the President of the Senate, Bamikole Omishore, in Abuja, Saraki also called on the envoy to help facilitate capacity building for illegal migrants from Nigeria in Europe to encourage them to return home with skills to sustain a livelihood.

 

He also called on the EU to ensure that Nigerians legally staying in Europe are not only protected but have their stay properly regularized.

 

He commended the EU for the role it played in ensuring the success of the 2015 general elections and urged them to sustain the gesture in future elections.

 

Responding to remarks by the envoy, Saraki said, “I know there are a number of issues that are of great concern to you and to us, particularly in the area of migration.

 

“I know there are pending agreements between Nigeria and the EU that we need to be prompt about and come to quick resolution so as to be able to put those agreements in place.

 

“This I believe will help us address the issue of illegal immigrants into the EU and also to see what kind of responses we can build, like capacity, to make it more attractive for these Nigerians to come back and be able to sustain a livelihood.

 

“I think this is something we need to start pushing forward in our discussions and see how we can begin to implement something that will work.

 

“I also think that during your tenure in the country, this is a very important area where we need to see work done. We need to see how we can provide some vocational training for individuals that are willing to come back.

 

“I think at the same time, we must also encourage Nigerians that are in Europe legally and are doing legitimate businesses to see that they get a fair share of the possibility of ensuring that they are properly regularized in the EU,” Saraki stated.

 

Earlier, Ambassador Karlsen described Nigeria and the EU as natural political partners and pledged to work to further cement the existing cordial relations between the EU and the country.

 

Karlsen said: “So whatever I can do to promote that understanding you can count on me. As I enter my tenure and be responsible for a very significant development cooperation portfolio I would wish nevertheless to emphasize the political relationship.

 

“I think we are natural political partners. Of course, in dialogue around Nigeria but also on the regional and international stage.

 

“We look to Nigeria as a likeminded partner in international relations. Hopefully we will have very close relations. You can count on me to be your ambassador also in the promotion of Nigeria’s interest in Europe and my availability for working together on different agenda and platforms.”

 

END

 

Signed:

 

Bamikole Omishore 

Head, International Relations to the President of the Senate

 

Press Release: Senate, MDAs, CSOs Proffer Solution to Youth Unemployment Challenge

Press Release

October 9, 2017

Senate, MDAs, CSOs Proffer Solution to Youth Unemployment Challenge

The Senate, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on Monday convened a roundtable dialogue on the alarming rate of youth unemployment in the country.

The event which was attended by the President of the Senate, Principal Officers of the Senate, Senators and CSOs, according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate, Sanni Onogu, identified the root causes of unemployment in the country and ways to tackle the menace.

The session identified poor youth orientation and mindset, skills gap, unfocused education system, poor funding and lack of collaboration and synergy between government agencies responsible for employment generation and implementation of of government policies as some of the reasons responsible for the increasing unemployment rate in the country.

The session noted that there is a disconnect between among agencies championing the government’s programmes aimed at making the youth to embrace entrepreneurship and become self-employed.

According to the group, there is need to step up advocacy aimed at reorienting youths to develop the savings and ‘starting small’ culture.

They further noted that for real change to take place, the leaders of today need to show example in all their dealings for the youths to imbibe.

They insisted that since Rome was not build in a day, the youth of today have to be made to realize that they ought to be problem solvers rather than being the problem.

While increasing population was counted among factors leading high rate of unemployment, it was agreed that the nation’s population would be its greatest advantage if properly channeled into productive endeavour like agriculture.

Other suggestions aimed at tackling the rising unemployment rate included comprehensive land reforms, entrepreneurship training, releasing and monitoring of budgetary allocations to ensure they are used for intended purposes.

It was also suggested that the nation needs accurate data and demographics of its population to aid better planning and application of resources.

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, in his opening remarks lamented that at present, adequate data and information that forms the basis of analysis and planning are difficult to obtain.

“This lack of data makes it difficult for policy makers to understand the nature of the unemployment challenge and make informed decisions on how to support young people in the labour market,” Saraki said.

The Senate, Saraki stated, decided to undertake the youth unemployment challenge by inviting the frontline program implementers and organizations to better understand how their missions are tested by the development needs of young people.

He noted that the roundtable was not not intended to be an oversight hearing.

“Oversight is the domain of Senate Committees. This roundtable is more of a fact-finding and information download from our panelists?” he said.

He said it was the desire of the Senate that discussions at the roundtable would kickstart a consultative process that will open up the decision making process to good ideas and strategies that will address youth development issues in the country.

“Nigeria has its sights set on one day becoming a leading industrialized nation,” Saraki said. “The plan will never be achieved if we do not begin to prepare tomorrow’s workforce today.”

He added: “The world is now digitally connected, competitive and fast paced environment. It is imperative that government policies become more coordinated and informed about how to support young people’s aspirations.

“It pains me to know that young people defer many of their hopes and aspirations due to lack of employment opportunity. As our nation continues to diversify the economy and move from economic recovery to expansion, we must end the marginalization of young people by including their interests in national planning from inception.

​”​A major takeaway from today is that it is clear that there is a disconnect between those that are implementing youth development and empowerment programs and what is happening on the street.

​”Additionally, we continue to just scratch the surface when we say we have programs that are catering to 1000, or programs that are catering to 500 people, when we continue to have 250,000 Youth Corpers that graduate into the job market each year.

​”​From today’s meeting, it is clear that organization’s like the Bank of Industry (BOI) and others, are ready and willing to do what they can to bring down this number. This is why on our own part, we need to address this issue of the re-orientation of our young people to get them ready for the future that lies ahead,” the President of the Senate said.​

END

Signed:

Sanni Onogu

Chief Press Secretary to 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

WELCOME BACK SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON) ON THE 8TH SENATE’S RESUMPTION OF PLENARY FROM THE 2017 ANNUAL RECESS

WELCOME BACK SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON) ON THE 8TH SENATE’S RESUMPTION OF PLENARY FROM THE 2017 ANNUAL RECESS ON TUESDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER, 2017.

 

PROTOCOL

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, it a great pleasure to see you all back from our annual recess. In truth, it has always been a special privilege to welcome you my colleagues into this chamber, and today is no exception. I believe the recess afforded us, opportunity to take stock on the journey so far, consult widely with our constituents and be re-energized for the tasks ahead.

 

  1. Let me also use this opportunity to, on behalf of the entire Senate commiserate with our colleague Senator Gilbert Nnaji (Enugu East), who recently lost his amiable wife, Lady Ann Nnaji, after a brief illness. We pray that the good lord will grant her eternal rest and you, our dear Senator Gilbert, the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, we have in the last two sessions of our term devoted enormous time, working hard on critical legislation, some with historical essence and others with relatively high-level implications for enhancing the welfare of our people and putting food on their tables. I am happy to tell you that some of these bills which has since become law have already started yielding expected gains. This is especially so with the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Act, with increased lending to private sector. We expect more to come. Our ultimate aim will be, inclusive growth, full employment for our people and frameworks that enable our young people to run viable startups.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, as a firm believer that economic security is first and most important security we can offer our people, it is the apparent inadequacy of this security that is at the heart of the general disaffection of our people towards government. We have done this with the belief that with less hunger on the street; with more of our people gainfully engaged; insecurity will be significantly reduced and our economy revamped. In this period, I expect us to conclude work on the National Transport Commission Bill, and the National Road Funds Bill, the Petroleum Industry Fiscal and Host Community Bill which are pending. It is my hope that we shall conclude work quickly on the Bank lending rate reduction initiative and the National Payment Systems Bill.

 

  1. As we continue to take action to strengthen our economy, let me use this opportunity to congratulate all Nigerians for working together to get us out of recession. While we congratulate ourselves for exiting the recession, it is important that we don’t rest on our oars as this is not an end in itself. There is a lot of work ahead. Our aim is to see our economy create millions of new jobs and see growth rates of 7% or more. This is why the implementation of the 2017 budget is crucial.

 

  1. By the first week of October, we expect to begin the review of the implementation of the 2017 budget. To set the stage for this, we expect to invite the Ministers of Finance and Budget Planning to come and brief the Senate on implementation so far. Nigerians want to see a more significant improvement in the level of implementation of the budget this financial year. Let me therefore use this opportunity to call on all our standing committees to begin the process of putting together their oversight plan for a close and proper review of the performance of the 2017 Budget. In the same token, we must remind ourselves of the initiative we started and for which we have significant stride – that is, the Made in Nigeria initiative. Distinguished colleagues, it is time to enter the next stage of this initiative; the oversight of implementation to ensure that the policy yields expected gains.

 

  1. I will like therefore to see the committees demonstrate proactivity and readiness to engage government to ensure that at least a significant portion of our annual budget is fully dedicated to local procurement. All committees of the Senate must be involved in this and find better channels to engage our people and enable feedbacks. However, for these efforts to be successful it is required that we maintain peace and political stability. Hence the need for all of us to fight to keep Nigeria united and prosperous.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, a house divided against itself will not stand. More than ever before, we need to stand for the unity and indivisibility of our country. We must condemn in the strongest possible terms all forms of violence as a form of engagement. The Constitution and laws have laid down tools and procedures for us to push through our interest as all democratic nations do. Our nation is blessed with exceptionally talented and beautiful people, we are collectively strong and indomitable and it is time for all of us to stand up for our nation. Our dream of a virile nation must keep us motivated and this dream is already at the horizon.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, as leaders, closest to our people, we must rededicate ourselves to the values we have institutionalized in this chamber. In this chamber, we are first and foremost, Nigerians. Yes, we are Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Fulanis. Yes, we are Muslims, Christians and traditional worshipers. But we must in all our conversations and decisions continue to be first and foremost Nigerians and as Nigerian citizens be our brothers’ keepers. Too many of our youths, too many of our families from the South to the North need a lifting. Our job is to help government give them a hand and ones again make them feel great again being Nigerians. This is our mission.

 

  1. As we work to even make our Constitution better, it must be remembered that Constitution review is a continuous process which we must undertake with the vision of the future in our minds. The process we have already will continue in earnest with the meeting of the speakers of the various state Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly with a view to moving forward with the process. As promised, we will revisit and consider areas of the Constitution we believe will further strengthen our federation and enable our collective dream for a more prosperous Nigeria.

 

  1. In the fight against corruption, aside the bills we have passed, it is important that we also sharpen up our oversight tools to ensure that government remains accountable always. However, I urge us all to more than ever, operate above board ourselves. In the last two years, we have successfully exposed numerous cases of corruption in our agencies and officers of government and as a result saved government enormous amount of public resources. This is what Nigerian people expect of us and we must continue to deliver on this. We must not make the mistake of resting on our oars. I say this to encourage you to keep up with the good works of exposing corruption as you have been doing so far. Yes, like Senator Isah Hamma Misau who had the courage to expose deep rooted institutional corruption, you will be attacked, blackmailed and insulted but, unlike any former Senate before this, we will not bow or be intimidated.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, our focus on interventions critical to our national development will continue in this session. We will be interacting with stakeholders with the aim of repositioning our education sector and the health sector especially with the health insurance subsector as key primers of the economy. The major direction will be to expand access to basic education and health, incentivize investment in these critical sectors and find lasting solutions to issues of strikes and interruption in these sectors.

 

  1. Dear colleagues, we are all witness to the revolutionary growth of innovative works and remarkable fits Nigerians both in the entertainment industry and software development are making across the globe. However, their ability to fully harness and reap the fruits of their effort continues to be hampered by our intellectual property regime which is yet to be reformed to meet with today’s digital realities and opportunities. We are determined to contribute our quota to make their lives easier and better by initiating and paying close attention to our intellectual property (IP) rights frameworks.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, a lot has happened in our nation within the last few weeks especially with the floods. Let me take a moment to commiserate with all Nigerians who may have been affected by the recent floods. Our hearts and prayers are with you at this period.

 

  1. On a salutary note, I am happy to report to you distinguished colleagues that while we were away, we also took note of some of the strides Nigerians have been making. We congratulate our women on the wining of the African Basket Ball Championship. We also congratulate our Super Eagles on their journey so far for the world cup qualifiers and we will continue to support and encourage them.

 

  1. Before, I conclude this speech, let me on another winning note and on your behalf welcome Mr. President who has acknowledge his return to office through an executive communication earlier within the period of our vacation back to the saddle. We pray that the almighty Allah will continue to grant him full restoration.

 

  1. Let me wish us all a very successful session. Thank you all and God bless Nigeria.

 

PREIDENT OF THE SENATE

Press Release: Senate to Prioritize Passage of Occupational Safety Bill, Says Saraki

Press Release
September 9, 2017

Senate to Prioritize Passage of Occupational Safety Bill, Says Saraki

President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has stated that the 8th Senate will give accelerated consideration to the Occupational Safety and Health Bill (SB. 200), once the National Assembly resumes from its annual recess later this month.

In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, the Senate President emphasized that with the nation’s focus on economic growth — through the greater participation of the private sector — it was necessary to update our laws to guarantee the safety and health of Nigerian workers in order to protect them from avoidable injuries at their places of work.

“The Occupational Safety Bill, which has undergone Second Reading and is currently making its way through the Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity, will help to ensure that millions of Nigerian workers are protected in the event of injury.

“This Bill will also guarantee safe and healthy working conditions for Nigerian workers by putting in place a legal framework that will develop and promote occupational safety standards that define the exposure limits for chemicals, other biological and physical agents.

“This Senate takes the health and wellbeing of Nigerian workers very seriously. They are the back-bone and lifeblood of our nation’s economy. This is why this Bill sponsored by Senator Duro Faseyi, also ensures that employers provide preventive mechanisms and procedures that will limit accidents and injury at places of work.

“Furthermore, as much as we are pushing for the prevention of workplace hazards through this updated piece of legislation, we are also specifying a legislative framework that will ensure the compliance of all work places, employees and employers that will fall under this law,” Saraki said.

The President of the Senate also stated that the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, would cover both the formal and the informal sector, and repeal the Factories Act, by making comprehensive provisions for issues that relate to occupational safety and health in the workplace.

“Now more than ever, we need to end the largely unregulated practice of employers exposing hardworking Nigerians to dangerous and improper working conditions. The first step to achieving this objective is to update our laws to mitigate against the negatives that exist in many workplaces around the country. Doing this will safeguard Nigerian workers all over the country,” he said.

Signed

Yusuph Olaniyonu
Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the President of the Senate

Press Release: Senate Welcomes Improvement in Nation’s Economy

Press Release
September 5, 2017
 
Senate Welcomes Improvement in Nation’s Economy
The Eighth Senate, on Tuesday, applauded the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that showed Nigeria’s economy finally staging a comeback.
In a statement signed by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, its spokesperson and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, the Senate emphasized that it was truly commendable that after five consecutive quarters of contraction, the Nigerian economy grew by 0.55% in the second quarter of 2017.
Abdullahi also stated that the improved performance of the trade, manufacturing, agriculture and oil sectors, was an indication that with carefully aligned policy and legislative interventions, Nigeria’s economy could thrive beyond current forecasts and expectations.
“The Senate received Q2 NBS economic report with great excitement,” the Senate spokesperson said, “We are delighted that government’s response to the economic recession has began to yield tangible results.
“The public will recall that in the days following the announcement of the 2016 recession, the Senate initiated steps and tabled 21 recommendations that it submitted to the executive for immediate action. We also listed out economic priority Bills, many of which have now been passed, or at the final stage.
“We are also happy to note that many of the economic recommendations, specifically in the areas of retooling our agriculture and trade policies were adopted. This shows that the ‘all hands on deck’ approach was necessary from both branches on government”, he stated.
Abdullahi further noted that although the nation is now out of the recession, the Senate remains committed to seeing that the unemployment rate and high cost of living in the country is brought down.
“The rising unemployment in the country is an issue that is of much concern to all of us. Additionally, the rising cost of food prices and basic services in the country still affects millions of households. This is why we will continue to work on our laws, specifically in the areas of access to credit to promote more opportunities for small business owners; and opening up more sectors to private sector participation, so that there will be more competition in our markets — which will lead to lower prices.
“We will also continue to work with the executive to ensure that our policy and legislative objectives, specifically as they relate to the economy, are well-aligned,” the Senate spokesman said.
 
END
Signed
Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and  Public Affairs

Press Release: UBEC Act Amendment: Queens College Alumni Association Commends Senate

Press Release

August 26, 2017

 

UBEC Act Amendment: Queens College Alumni Association Commends Senate

 

The Queens College Old Girls Association (QCOGA), has commended the Senate, under the leadership of Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, for passing the amendments to the 2004 Universal Basic Education Act.

 

In a statement signed by its President, Dr. Frances Ajose and the Chair of its Advocacy Pressure Group, Mrs. Abieyuwa Eke Sanyaolu, the Queens College Alumni lauded the UBEC amendment passed by the Senate, describing it as “a major step towards the passing of a comprehensive Government sponsored Universal Basic Education bill guaranteeing free and compulsory education for primary and secondary students in all states in Nigeria.”

 

The statement also commended the Senate for approving the increase in budgetary allocation to the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC, from its former two per cent to three per cent.

 

“We especially applaud the landmark legislation which reduces the contribution of the state governments from 50% to 10%; with the aim of ameliorating the current situation where most states are unable to access the grant owing to their inability to pay the counterpart funding.

 

“Queens College Old Girls Association thanks and supports the Senate President’s continued exhibited commitment to basic and secondary education in Nigeria and to improving the quality of education in the country,” the Queens College Alumni said.

 

Recall that in July, the Senate amended the Compulsory, Free, Universal Basic Education Act of 2004 with a clause that will make primary and secondary education free and compulsory across the country.

 

Additionally, the amendment will ease pressure on states in accessing funds for infrastructure development, by reducing the 50 per cent counterpart funding clause to access education intervention funds from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), downward to 10 per cent.

 

Since the UBEC amendment passed at the Senate, the Upper Chamber has received commendations from various domestic and international advocacy groups and individuals, including Malala Yousafzai — the Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate — who commended the 8th Senate, and thanked its President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki for working to extend the right to free education in Nigeria.

 

 

 

Signed:

 

Media Office of the President of the Senate