Legislative business must continue despite elections, Saraki tells senators

Nigerian senate chambers
Nigerian senate chambers

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has charged his colleagues to be focused on legislative business despite activities of the election season, even as he called for restraint in the use of power.

In his welcome back speech on Wednesday after the end of the year recess, Mr Saraki reminded the lawmakers of the need to get down to the unfinished businesses of the Senate.

“As evident all around us, the New Year has met our countrymen and women in an anticipatory mood. Spirits are high, because in this year 2019, Nigeria has a date with destiny. But we also know that despite all of this, the work of leadership must go on; governance must not suffer. We must trudge on and fulfil our mandates as legislators subject to the Nigerian Constitution and the will of the people.

“As we hit this home run, therefore, my distinguished colleagues, we must have our eyes firmly fixed on the unfinished business of the 8th Senate; and that is to bring the legislative agenda to a fitting close and cap our endeavours of these four years with success. We cannot relent or lose steam on this last lap; we must remain focused and finish strong,” he said.

Mr Saraki said the 8th Senate has so far passed an ‘unprecedented 257 bills’ adding that ‘Nigerians expect us to continue in this vein, and we owe it to ourselves to meet their expectations.’

The Senate President also warned his colleagues to eschew partisanship in advancing arguments at the chamber to reduce the tension of the election season.

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He said, “Leaders should help reduce the tension in the polity by contributing to an atmosphere of moderate and measured political conversations. Expectations of the Executive are also palpable, particularly with regard to the need to uphold the Constitution and its tenets, especially as they guarantee the minimum basic requirement of Separation of Powers; the unity of the country and the welfare of the citizens.”

“In that respect, it bears reminding that the exercise of power must be anchored in the best democratic principles. The former US President Obama’s Doctrine of Restraint as a key feature in the use of power, is commended to us in this polity at this crucial time. Some of the reports and occurrences in recent times speak to this need for restraint. Those who exercise power should do their best to avoid any action that stands the risk of being misconstrued as coloured by partisan considerations.

“On that note, I wish to lay emphasis on the role of the Judiciary in promoting justice and bringing respect to the country. If the Judiciary is violated or eroded or otherwise brought to ill repute, so do the values attached to its role in a democracy. Everyone in the political value chain should, therefore, do nothing that could raise tensions in the country. Nigerians are looking up to leaders who will douse flames that have the potential to threaten the peace and wellbeing of our country.”

Mr Saraki asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to give urgent attention to the issues surrounding the collection of PVCs while urging the commission to bring relevant stakeholders together for a dialogue ahead of the elections.

To contestants, Mr Saraki in his speech, wants them to note that the forthcoming election is not a do or die affair.

“To those of us who are contesting, let us remember that our biggest offer is to serve. Ultimately, the Nigerian people have a right to choose who will represent them at all levels. It is not a do or die affair. I encourage all to participate in the coming polls and I wish Nigerians a safe 2019 Election,” he said.

After his speech, the Senate adjourned its plenary to January 17 to honour Abayomi Adeola, a member of the House of Representatives who died on December 30, 2018.

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