SARAKI’S SPEECH TO THE SENATORS ON RESUMPTION FROM THE 2018 END-OF-YEAR RECESS
Welcome Back Speech by the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki to Senators on Resumption from the 2018 End-of-Year Recess. January 16th, 2019.
1. Distinguished colleagues, it is an honour to welcome you all back after the festive break. I wish each and every one of you, and your families, a very happy new year 2019. Although the political season has swung into full gear, it is my hope that you were able to get a bit of rest and some quiet time during the break; and that you have recharged your batteries, ready to dive back into legislative work with renewed vigour.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. This is an epoch making Senate that had, by the end of 2018, passed an unprecedented 257 bills, many of which are groundbreaking enough to change the game to meet the needs of Nigerians, with the potential to radically transform their lives for the better. Nigerians expect us to continue in this vein, and we owe it to ourselves to meet their expectations. The legacy of the 8th Senate will be written in the legislative footprints that we leave, and the foundation that we lay.
5. Therefore, we must ensure that we continue to address issues affecting Nigerians, and concerning which they seek our intervention. Issues such as Unemployment, lack of economic opportunities, insecurity and so on — these still require the attention of the National Assembly. Every action that we can take to address these issues through the legislative function, we must take; everything that we can do, we must do. We must ensure that we conclude work on all outstanding bills and petitions; and bring successful conclusion to all issues and investigations brought to the attention of this Senate.
6. The 2019 Elections are just over a month away, and the expectations of Nigerians as the dates draw near, is that we continue to serve as the representatives they voted for. In our work in this chamber, we are expected to rise about the partisan paradigm. We should address our minds to, and always channel our efforts to how we can move our country forward. Nigerians want to see leaders who will not succumb to the partisan instinct in lawmaking. They want to see leaders who will bring new ideas to bear on the challenges confronting the country.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. I urge you, my distinguished colleagues, to bear all this in mind as we move towards the end of this historic Senate. The integrity of the constitution must be preserved at all times; and service to the people in a unified country should be our ultimate goal in all that we do as legislators.
10. Looking ahead to the General Elections, I wish all contestants and aspirants luck in the forthcoming elections, including those here among us. I enjoin us all to bear in mind that it should be a contest of ideas. We should eschew ad hominem approaches to political discourse, and communicate our ideas in a civil manner.
11. Everything must be done and every sacrifice must be made to ensure free and fair 2019 Elections. INEC is encouraged to engage the parties and be transparent in its decision making. It is important that the people are assured of the Commission’s resolve and commitment to credible elections.
12. To all Nigerians, I say this: we must have a country after the elections. We all still have to live among ourselves when the polls have closed and the elections are over. The rhetoric leading up to the elections must therefore be mindful of the need for moderation, decorum and respect.
13. 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.
14. Once again, I bid you all welcome back, as we resume plenary today. The work must go on, and I am confident that we are ready.
15. I wish the entire members of the Senate, and all Nigerians, a healthy, safe and prosperous 2019.