From Sulyman Buhari, Kwara
On the 9th of June, the 8th Senate under the able leadership of Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki will mark the second year anniversary of impactful legislations, quality representations and effective oversight functions that have redefined the roles of the National Assembly in Nigeria.
Two years ago, in his inaugural speech, the President of the Senate said, “My dear distinguished colleagues, we are entering the saddle at a time when a lot is being expected of us. Nigerians expect the barest minimum out of our agenda; that the new senate and National Assembly must make laws that will enable us renew our infrastructure, reform the oil sector, reform our security systems, boost agriculture, create jobs and make doing business in Nigeria much more competitive. In the coming days we shall be converging to hammer out an aggregate agenda that will help us focus and deliver on these minimum expectations”.
Therefore, in this task of assessing the Nigerian Senate at its second year anniversary, I will view the activities of the red chamber in the last two years from the prism of the inaugural speech of its President.
The Senate President promised the passage of bills that will enable the creation of jobs and make doing business in Nigeria much more competitive. Two years after: so far, so good.
Immediately after its inauguration, the 8th Senate commenced work on many economic related Bills that aimed to move Nigeria from recession to prosperity and increase the ease of doing business in the country. Some of the Bills are: The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, National Development Bank of Nigeria (Establishment Bill), Warehouse Receipts Act (Amendment Bill), Investment and Securities Act (ISA), Customs and Excise Management Act and many others.
It should be noted that the huge work the 8th Senate has done on infrastructure reforms bills like the Nigerian Railway Bill, Nigerian Ports and Harbour Bill, National Road Funds Bill, National Transport Commission Bill, National Inland Waterways Bill and the Federal Roads Bill would create at least 580,000 new jobs for Nigerians in the next five years.
In fact, it is understandable that the 8th Senate under the leadership of Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has been rated as the most productive Senate since 1999. Amongst other reasons is because at the end of the first half, while the 8th Senate has passed 91 quality bills, the 7th Senate passed 28, the 6th Senate passed 23 and the 5th Senate passed 65. This fact is perhaps the clearest indication that the 8th Senate is a Senate of many firsts.
On representation, the 8th Senate has not only aligned with the yearnings of Nigerians, it has also been at the forefront of protecting and promoting the interests of Nigerians. Thousands of vulnerable citizens have been provided relief through the consideration of over 200 petitions. Those who were unlawfully sacked from the civil service, have been recalled and reinstated. The oppressed citizens have received succour while the despondent citizens now have renewed hope.
The Senate President said “We shall entrench greater openness and accountability”. He has fulfilled his promise by raising higher the bar of transparency in the operations and finances of the National Assembly. That bold move is the first since 1999. Nigerians are now aware of how the budget estimate of the National Assembly is been shared and spent. This shows in no small measure that the President of the Senate is a leader that takes the issue of transparency seriously.
On the anti-corruption war, the 8th Senate has proven to a reliable partner with the Executive. The Senate has exposed corruption through the exercise of its constitutional powers on oversight functions on the Treasury Single Account regime, on the activities of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), on the activities of Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE) and many others.
Given the above, it is clear beyond any propaganda, that the President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki CON has fulfilled all his electoral promises. The 8th Senate has completed the first half on a brilliant note. I believe if the parliament gets more support from Nigerians and the Press, the achievements of the second half will exceed the successes of the first half.