The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has urged the newly elected National Assembly lawmakers to conduct their affairs in a manner that commands respect from other arms of government.
He made this comment during an opening dinner for senators-elect and members-elect of the 9th assembly on Sunday.
The event organised by the National Assembly management held at Nicon Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
In his remarks, Mr Saraki said the legislature is the bedrock of democracy and its independence in a democratic government is non-negotiable.
“In its constitutional role, the National Assembly carries out oversight, makes laws and ensures constituency representation. In carrying out constitutional functions, lawmakers must always recognise that the independence of the legislature is non-negotiable,” Mr Saraki said.
The lawmaker, who will not be returning like his colleagues also said: ”It (Senate) is an independent and co-equal arm of government. Therefore, it behoves members of the National Assembly to lead the way in asserting the principle of Separation of Powers, thus ensuring accountability in governance. To achieve that, it is expected that members will carry out their duties in a manner that commands that respect from other arms of government as well as the people you represent.”
Mr Saraki noted that the legislature is an arm of government often misunderstood by the people.
He urged the new lawmakers to strengthen the arm of government.
“That done, you will have a real chance as lawmakers to overcome any negative perception of the legislature in the public out there. The Nigerian National Assembly is far from unique when we talk about this problem of perception. All over the world, studies have shown that the legislature is often the most misunderstood arm of government.
“In Nigeria, the misapprehension as to the role of the legislature is compounded by its being the youngest arm of government in our developing democracy, in a country that is not long out of military rule. The legislature also often appears to be the weakest arm of government. It is , therefore,necessary to focus on strengthening this important institution. The legislative arm of government must be strong, because when the legislative arm is strong, democracy will be strong.”
The Senate president said he was proud of the exploits of the 8th Senate. He said the Senate passed 274 Bills in 46 months and cleared 192 petitions in the same period.
In support of the federal government anti-corruption drive, Mr Saraki made reference to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Bill (NFIU) which enabled Nigeria to be readmitted into the Egmont Group.
He also mentioned as an achievement of the 8th Senate with the Not Too Young To Run law, implementation of the one per cent budgetary provision for primary healthcare.
He enjoined the new legislators ”to build on the solid foundation and achievements, and record even greater success”.
The series of events ushering in new lawmakers is slated to hold between March 31 and April 13.
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