The Senate has also resolved to take steps to curtail all threats to the continued existence of Nigeria as a united and peaceful country, adding that it has become imperative that decisive actions were taken to halt factors that would mitigate against Nigeria’s unity. The upper chamber also said that it will not be afraid of anyone in the country in its fight against corruption and in carrying out effective oversights of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government where corrupt practices would be exposed.
It will be recalled that all the Igbos residing in the North were on Thursday in Kaduna given ultimatum by some Arewa youth groups to quit the northern parts of the country on October 1, 2017 or be forced to do so. The position of the Senate was made known yesterday at a special mid-term session to mark the second year of the 8th Senate which was inaugurated on June 9, 2015.
The session was attended yesterday by some past Senate Presidents which include Senator Joseph Wayas; Senator Ameh Ebute; Senator Iyorchia Ayu; Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; National chairman of the All Progressives Congreas (APC), John Odigie- Oyegun; Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Walid Jibrin, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State and wife of the Senate President, Mrs Toyin Bukola Saraki , among others.
Speaking yesterday, Senate President Bukola Saraki, who presided over the special session that lasted two hours noted that the Senate must stand for a non negotiable and united Nigeria, and that unity and peace were key issues that must be guaranteed for any meaningful development to take place.
“We must stand clealy and act clearly to defend this country. The unity of this country is not negotiable” Saraki said. Saraki who noted that the next two years in the life of the Senate would be most challenging, however promised that the Senate would complete the process of amending the constitution.
He then thanked his colleagues for their support and encouragement. Also mixed reactions trail 8th NASS second anniversary as some Nigerians on Friday in Abuja expressed mixed feelings on the activities of the 8th National Assembly as it celebrated its second anniversary. The assembly was inaugurated on June 9, 2015.
A public affairs analyst, Mr Itua Tom, said that Nigerians expected the assembly to come up with bills that would have direct impact on lives of Nigerians.
Tom said that there was need for the legislature to strengthen law-making and oversight in order to address the current economic and security challenges confronting the country.
He expressed dismay over the delay by the legislature to pass some critical bills that would promote socio-economic wellbeing of Nigerians. “Think of how long it took them to pass the 2016 and 2017 budgets. “ The whistle-blower Bill has been in the national assembly and that ought to have been passed to help the anti-corruption fight.
“It has not been passed thereby making things difficult. Instead of working institutionally, they are working under the whims and caprices of individuals,’’ he said. Tom, who said the legislature could make a difference in the remaining two years, urged the legislators to be more responsive and make laws that would change the lives of Nigerians.
“There is insecurity, poverty and hopelessness in the land; they still have two years to make a difference,’’ he added. Another assessor, Mr Cletus Agbo, stressed the need for the lawmakers to warm themselves up to their constituents at all times. Agbo said, “The House is one arm that has representatives yet they are so removed from their people and they are not listening to their people.
“One thing that the legislators should do is to organise town hall meetings regularly to address the peoples’ needs. “They need to meet with their people more often, and they should stop all the bickering but go back and do it better because there are so many pending bills.’’ “In every democracy it is only the legislature that makes the difference; so, they should stand up to the sacredness of their duty because it is their work that will make a better society.’’ Mr Emmanuel Eriogbe said that while the House of Representatives was implementing its legislative agenda, it must rise to address the increasing agitations threatening the unity of the country.
According to him, we have never had this type of agitations for regions to go their separate ways.
“There is need for Nigerians to be made to think as one by ensuring adequate cohesion in the polity,’’ Eriogbe said. He urged the legislators to use the occasion of the second anniversary as a period of sober reflection to fashion out ways to move the country forward.
However, Mr Phillip Nyam argued that there was need for the national assembly to celebrate. Nyam said that the house had made necessary appropriations which had translated in winning the war against terrorism. “It might not be much but there is something to celebrate and I can say the 8th assembly has done fairly well.
“We must not also forget that this national assembly broke the record by making its budget public,’’ he said. Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives, representing Akoko North East, West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, Mr Olemija Stephen (APC), said there was need for improved oversight functions by the legislature to promote principles of checks and balances in the country.
The lawmaker said that the legislature must be given a free hand to perform its constitutional duties. “Oversight is one area that needs to be strengthened because that promotes the principle of checks and balances in our democracy,’’ he said.
The Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Mr Agboola Ajayi, said there was a misconception of the workings of the National Assembly and called for increased enlightenment of the people.
According to him, Nigerians must be properly educated on the workings of the national assembly. “For instance, to say that a legislator must come back with a constituency project is wrong; yes, they have the powers to appropriate but they don’t execute projects,’’ Ajayi said.
On his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, said that the 8th assembly had remained a bastion of legislative activism since inauguration.
According to Dogara, members of the 8th House of Representatives are in keen competition with one another in fashioning out legislative solutions to myriad of problems facing the nation. “That is why in all facets of law-making, we can comfortably and conveniently assert that we have broken all records,’’ he added.
He said that total number of bills introduced so far were 1, 064 out of which 50 were executive bills. “Senate bills transmitted to the House are 21 and private members bills were 993.
“One hundred and twenty-six bills have been passed by the House and the others are at various stages in the legislative mill.
“Twenty-seven bills have received presidential assent and a lot more are in the pipeline,’’ Dogara said.