*** Vows to disappoint those who think that the leadership of a National Assembly controlled by the ruling party work in harmony with the executive is anathema
*** Urges Senators to Work together for the Interest of Nigeria and Nigerians
*** Says Exchange of Views at the Chamber will be constructive, will lead a bipartisan Senate
*** As Senators get Keys to OfficesBy Henry Umoru
AS Senate reconvened yesterday from its two weeks break, the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan said that as lawmakers, they must work in unison in order to achieve a lot for the people of Nigeria.Ahmad Lawan
He told his colleagues that he would disappoint those who have the notion that the leadership of a National Assembly controlled by the ruling party work in harmony with the executive is anathema.
Lawan who promised that as President of the Senate, he will not subscribe to adversarial or acrimonious relationship, stressed that the presidential system of government was not designed to function in an acrimonious manner.
In his address of welcome, Lawan who assured his colleagues that work has begun, stressed that exchange of views by the Senators in the 9th Senate at the hallowed chamber will be constructive, adding that as Senators, they must guided on how to impact positively on the people, just as he reiterated that he would lead a bipartisan Senate.
President of the Senate who noted that the lawmakers would intensify efforts on robust oversight, said that they would also consolidate on the oil reforms that were started in the 8th Senate. It would be recalled that the Senate soon after the inauguration, had on June 13 gone for a two week break to enable a Committee put in place work with the management of the National Assembly to allocate offices. Lawan said, ” Let me welcome you all back from the short break as we formally begin our work in the 9th session of the National Assembly. It is trite to say that we all have our job cut out for us. I have in recent weeks had discussions with President Muhammadu Buhari on the challenges facing the country and how we can leverage our position as lawmakers to help him deliver on his mandate. I will be doing more of that in the coming weeks and months. If we must build an economy that lifts majority of our people out of poverty, there is need for a serious collaboration between the executive and the legislature.
“However, I am also aware that there are people for whom any notion that the leadership of a National Assembly controlled by the ruling party work in harmony with the executive is anathema. That is not the way the presidential system of government was designed to function and I am not for any adversarial or acrimonious relationship. I intend to work closely with President Buhari in the interest of Nigeria without compromising the integrity of the National Assembly as an independent arm of government with oversight powers.
“As lawmakers, one of the powerful tools we have for our work is the power of oversight which is meant to enhance transparency and accountability. In exercising these powers, we will not only review, monitor and supervise projects being implemented by the executive, we will critically examine them vis-à-vis the cost and whether they align with our national aspirations. And we will follow the progress of these projects right from conception to when they are finally delivered to the people. But we will do so with every sense of responsibility.
“I have been in the National Assembly since 1999, first as a member of the House of Representatives and from 2007 as a Senator, so I am conversant with the role of the legislature and the principle of separation of powers, both in theory and in practice. The system of checks and balances which we practice in Nigeria today was enshrined to safeguard the values of justice and the rule of law and deliver public good. Therefore, in a season when majority of Nigerians are more concerned with outcomes that reflect their concerns, the best way to serve that interest is through cooperation and collaboration.
“In a period of dwindling resources amid rising population, the expectations of our people remain huge. But to deliver those essential services without which our society can neither develop nor thrive, the executive and the legislature must work together. So, in exercising our mandate as lawmakers, we must at all times, and in all circumstances, be guided by how our action will positively impact the greater majority of our people.
“Each of us, as lawmakers, must also resolve that the exchange of views, especially within this hallowed chambers, will be constructive and that we will respect one another. Tolerance, which we cannot legislate upon in this chambers, is a virtue we must all strive to promote in a bid to reposition our multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. On my part, I pledge to lead in a bipartisan and unifying manner.
“Distinguished colleagues, it should worry us in this chamber that majority of our people still grapple with extreme poverty. But while how to tackle the growing inequality should be part of our legislative agenda, the security challenge posed by insurgents, kidnappers, armed robbers and other criminal cartels from North to South, East to West will require our collective efforts. We also need to consolidate on the oil sector reforms started by the last Senate even as we help the executive to reinvigorate the war against corruption with necessary legislation.
“If there is one issue that is dear to me and which we must all take very seriously, it is that more than ten million of our children are out of school. As a former lecturer who has also in the past chaired the House of Representatives Committee on Education, I subscribe to the view that “All children, no matter where they live or what their circumstances, have the right to quality education.” Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, over 10 million of the country’s children aged 5 – 14 years are out of school.
“This is a challenge for us in the next four years.
“I am well aware that the problems of our country are quite enormous but they are not insurmountable. If we all work together as members of the same government, with different roles, we will achieve our goals to better the lot of the Nigerian people.
“Once again, I welcome you all back to Abuja. Now, let the real work begin.”
Meanwhile, Senators were yesterday handed over envelopes containing keys and letters of office allocation in order to intimate them of their offices by the Senator Abubakar Kyari led Ad- hoc Committee to allocate offices.
It would be recalled that after the inauguration of the 9th Senate and election of the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan and his Deputy, Senator Ovie Omo- Agege, the Senate had on Wednesday June 13 adjourned for two weeks to enable for the allocation of offices for the lawmaker.
With the exit of the last Senate, all the offices were empty, thereby making it imperative for the two weeks abrupt break.
For monetization and lack of offices, furniture and other office equipment as all the offices were empty against the backdrop that the National Assembly had asked all the lawamkers in the 8th Senate, both outdone and returning to go away with their Settee, Refrigerators, Printing Machines, Typewriters, flat Televisions, Water Dispensers, among others.
It will be recalled that before the 8th Senate rounded off, the National Assembly had monetized all the equipment in the offices of the Senators and asked them to go with them, even as N375,000 would at the end of the day be deducted from each Senator’s Severance, while N350,000 would be deducted from each member of House of Representatives.
The adjournment followed a motion moved by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege which was seconded by Senator Philip Aduda, PDP, FCT.
The adjournment according to the President of the Senate was to allow for the Management and Senate Adhoc Committee members put in place on how to allocate offices and seats.
Before the adjournment, the Senate had set up a 12 member Committee to liaise with the management of the National Assembly for chamber’s seating arrangement and the provision of offices.
The Committee is chaired by Senator Abubakar Kyari, APC, Borno North. Other members of the committee are: Senators Aisha Ahmed Modibbo, APC, Adamawa Central; Gabriel Suswam, PDP, Benue North East; Sabi Abdullahi, APC, Niger North; Betty Appiafi, PDP, Rivers West; Bassey Akpan Albert, PDP, Akwa Ibom North East; Ibrahim Gobir, APC, Sokoto East; Nicholas Tofowomo, PDP, Ondo South; Adeola Solomon Olamilekan, APC, Lagos West), Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North; Stella Odua, PDP, Anambra North and Jibrin Barau APC, Kano North.
The committee was given two weeks to complete the assignment and report during plenary.