Re-Awake Spirit Of ‘Nigerianness’ In You, Amosun Tasks Nigerians

amosunGovernor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State has tasked Nigerians to re-awake the spirit of ‘Nigerianness’ in them in order to surmount the socio-economic and political challenges confronting the nation.

Amosun, who expressed regret that the ‘Nigerianness’ in the citizens had been diluted and eroded by hate speeches capable of setting the country on conflagration, maintained spirit of resilience must be mustered by all Nigerians, to nip all the current challenges in the bud.

He, therefore, urged the people not to let the sacrifice and indomitable spirit of the nation’s founding fathers to be defeated by shunning divisive tendencies.

The governor stated these, on Sunday, in his address at the 57th independence anniversary of Nigeria.

The ceremony, held at the MKO International Stadium, Kuto, Abeokuta, was marked with March past by men of the military, paramilitary, voluntary organisations, trade unions and students.

The governor, who observed that the national day celebration was a moment of stock-taking and sober reflection, further warned that all acts capable of jeopardising the translation of the huge potentials of Nigeria into reality, must be avoided.

“We must begin to see strength in our unity and diversity. What is not in doubt is the huge potential for continued prosperity and socio-economic development as one, indivisible nation.

“We must, therefore, guard against all acts capable of jeopardizing the translation of this huge potential acts into reality.

“Let a day like this rekindle in us a nationalist fire for us to see others as brothers and sisters, irrespective of their creed or breed. In another dimension, eternal vigilance is required against divisive elements among us. We must begin, as a matter of utmost importance, to keep at arms length ethnic jingoists and religious fundamentalists who would rather see our country break up than continue to flourish.

“I charge all of us to lend our voices and our ideas to the cause of Nigeria’s unity by drowning out the voices of the few divisive elements among us whose stock-in-trade is belligerent posturing”. Amosun stated.

On the issue of restructuring, the governor admitted the issue had gained currency in recent times, but observed Nigerians have no common agreement on what should be restructured.

He pointed out that rather than heating up the polity, Nigerians should look for common ground and collectively look into the issues that affect them.

“What is important for us now is to look for common ground for the benefit of all. I think it will be of benefit to let go of our differences and come together as one people irrespective of our ethnic, religious, political and geographical differences.

“We must collectively look into the issues that affect us as a people in order to provide lasting solutions and strengthen our peaceful cohabitation as a nation and also offer prayers and remain more dedicated to the wholesome development of our nation, so that the labour of our heroes past shall not be in vain.

“We can no longer play the ostrich by choosing to bury our heads in the sand while wishing all our challenges will just disappear. The truth is that the challenges will not just disappear by mere wishing. We cannot afford to continue to sit on the fence and act unconcerned; or else the challenges will fester”. The governor submitted.

While urging the people to continue to rally behind the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, Amosun, however, assured that all the ongoing projects in Ogun State would be completed before the expiration of his tenure in 2019.

Buhari Confusing Restructuring With Break-Up, Says Afenifere

BUHARIThe pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, and its northern counterpart, the Arewa Consultative Forum, on Sunday, disagreed on President Muhammadu Buhari’s Independence Day’s broadcast.

Buhari had, in the broadcast, said irresponsible groups had hijacked the restructuring debate, decrying what he called the folly of “hot-headed” youths.

The ACF said the broadcast was timely, but Afenifere said the advocates of restructuring meant well for the country.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Forum, Alhaji Muhammad Biu, told one of our correspondents in Kaduna that the broadcast was a scorecard of the President’s administration on security, economy and corruption.

He noted that the ACF advocated peaceful and meaningful dialogue on all issues of national importance and the use of democratic institutions to achieve better results.

The ACF’s spokesman stated, “The President’s independence anniversary speech was timely and appropriate considering the issues raised. It was a scorecard of the Buhari administration on security, economy and corruption which was the hallmark of his campaign promises.

“On the issue of restructuring, we totally support the position of the President which has been our position all along.

“Agitations that come with threats and intimidation have no place in our present democratic dispensation.  The ACF will therefore support any restructuring that comes with clarity of purpose, just, fair and equitable to all sections of the country.”

But Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview withThe PUNCH, said Buhari should distinguish between the two camps and take the necessary steps to salvage the nation.

He stated that Buhari was promoting those working for the break-up of the country by ignoring the demands of Nigerians for restructuring.

Odumakin added, “He should separate those agitating for restructuring from those calling for a break-up of the country. I think he is confusing restructuring with break-up.

“Those calling for restructuring are those working to avert the breakup of Nigeria while those opposed to it are the ones working for the break-up of the country.

“Let the President deal with restructuring; if he does not listen to the agitations for restructuring, he is promoting those who are working  for the break-up of the country.”

A northern elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, said the speech by the President was “not realistic,” noting that some of the claims of Buhari were not true.

Muhammed, a Second Republic member of the House of Representatives, said, “Frankly speaking, the speech is not realistic. There is nothing and there was nothing meant to be spectacular or unique about the speech of the 57th anniversary. It is celebratory. Where we have a leader who is articulate or is in a firm control of the government, the speech could have been an avenue to mobilise and regain the confidence of the people.

“As far as I am concerned, there is nothing in the speech to energise, galvanise or persuade me. The government muddled up a speech that should be about matters of national importance with personal reminiscences of being a young officer. This romantic lamentation does not have a place in this speech.

“Some of the claims the President made were clearly dishonest. For example, he claimed that his agricultural policies have been a success. As far as I am concerned, that cannot be true because I don’t even know the policies.

“If I don’t, I am sure millions of other Nigerians don’t know too. When you see the functionality of a policy, you know it is working.”

A civil society group, Concerned Nigerians, said the President’s actions and comments gave rise to the agitations for restructuring, insisting that Buhari’s appointments were sectional and promoted nepotism.

The National Coordinator of the group, Deji Adeyanju, attributed the agitations for secession by the South-East youths to Buhari’s style of governance and actions.

“The President should look all around him; the Director General of Department of State Services is from his village; the people in charge of INEC are his kinsmen and all the service chiefs are from the North.

“If he looks around him, he would find the answers to why people are making the agitations for restructuring,” he added.

Adeyanju called on the President to practise unity through his conduct, noting that he portrayed himself as a sectional leader by overlooking the ultimatum by the northern youths to the Igbo while coming down hard on Igbo youths calling for secession.



Nigeria Won’t Break Up Under Me, Says Buhari

president-muhammadu-buhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari has said the clamour for restructuring gave some groups which he described as “highly irresponsible” the leeway to call for the nation’s breakup.

He vowed never to allow such happen under him.

Buhari made his position known in a national speech to mark the nation’s 57th independence anniversary on Saturday.  He is expected to address the nation at 7am on Sunday (today).

The President said under his watch, Nigeria had witnessed what he called political freedom that saw opposition parties winning elections at the state and National Assembly levels.

He said the growing political development, like all freedoms, was open to abuse, hence the recent development.

He noted that those agitating for a repeat of the nation’s civil war that claimed two million lives were not born by 1967 and had no idea of the consequences of the conflict.

Buhari said he was also disappointed in some community leaders who witnessed the war and still failed to warn their “hot-headed” youths of what the nation passed through.

He reiterated his position that any desired constitutional change should take place in a rational manner only at the national and state Houses of Assembly.

He said the assignment could not be left in the hands of “some lopsided, un-democratic body with a pre-determined set of objectives.”

The President said, “In the past two years, Nigeria has recorded appreciable gains in political freedom. A political party at the centre losing governorship elections, National Assembly seats and even state assemblies to opposition parties is new to Nigeria.

“Added to these is a complete freedom to associate, to hold and disseminate opinions. Such developments clearly attest to the country’s growing political development.

“Recent calls for re-structuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for dismemberment of the country. We cannot and we will not allow such advocacy.

“As a young army officer, I took part from the beginning to the end of our tragic civil war costing about two million lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a rerun were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through.

“Government is keeping up the momentum of dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta to keep the peace. We intend to address genuine grievances of the communities.

“Government is grateful to the responsible leadership of those communities and will pursue lasting peace in the Niger Delta.”

Buhari again said in spite of oil prices being an average of $100 per barrel and about 2.1 million barrels a day in the past years, the nation’s wealth was squandered and the country’s social and physical infrastructure neglected.

He added that Nigerians were left with no savings and huge infrastructure deficit.

“The APC government’s rallying cry to restore security, rebalance the economy and fight corruption was not all rhetoric.

“The country must first be secured. The economy must be rebalanced so that we do not depend on oil alone.

“We must fight corruption, which is Nigeria’s number one enemy. Our administration is tackling these tasks in earnest,” he said.

The President highlighted some of the achievements of his administration in the last two years in the areas of security, economy, and the fight against corruption.

He said as the nation entered the second half of his four-year term of office, he intended to accelerate progress and intensify his resolve to fix the country’s challenges and problems.

On security, he said Nigerians must be grateful to the nation’s Armed Forces for rolling back the frontiers of Boko Haram’s terrorism, defeating them and reducing them to “cowardly attacks on soft and vulnerable targets.”

He thanked the country’s neighbours and the international community for the collective efforts to defeat terrorism.

“Government is working round the clock to ensure the release of the remaining Chibok girls, as well as other persons in Boko Haram captivity. Government will continue to support the Armed Forces and other security agencies to fight not only terrorism, but kidnapping, armed robbery, herdsmen/farmers violence and to ensure peace, stability and security in our country,” he added.

On the economy, the President said his government has remained proactive in its diversification policy.

He said the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Programme, launched in November 2015, has been an outstanding success with N43.92bn released through the CBN and 13 participating institutions.

He also said 200,000 smallholder farmers from 29 states of the federation were benefitting; with 233,000 hectares of farmland being used to cultivate eight commodities, namely, rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soya bean, poultry, cassava, groundnuts and fish farming.

These initiatives, he said, were undertaken in close collaboration with the states.

He commended the efforts of the governors of Kebbi, Lagos, Ebonyi and Jigawa states for their support to the rice and fertiliser revolutions.

He also commended the governors of Ondo, Edo, Delta, Imo, Cross River, Benue, Ogun, Kaduna and Plateau states for their support of the Presidential initiative for palm oil, rubber, cashew, cassava, potatoes and others crops.

Buhari added, “With the abundance of rainfall last year and this year, agriculture has enjoyed divine intervention.

“Since December last year, this administration has produced over seven million 50kg bags of fertiliser. Eleven blending plants with a capacity of 2.1 million metric tons have been reactivated. We have saved $150m in foreign exchange and N60bn in subsidy. Fertiliser prices have dropped from N13,000 to N5,500 per 50kg bag.

“Furthermore, a new presidential initiative is starting with each state of the federation creating a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths, again with the aid of CBN’s development finance initiatives.

“Power remains a huge problem. As of September 12, production of power reached an all-time high of 7,001 megawatts. Government is increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial logjam bedevilling the industry. We hope to reach 10,000 megawatts by 2020.

“Key priorities include better energy mix through solar and hydro technologies. I am glad to say that after many years in limbo, the Mambilla Power Project has taken off.

“Elsewhere in the economy, the special window created for manufacturers, investors and exporters and foreign exchange requirements has proved very effective. Since April, about $7bn has come through this window alone. The main effect of these policies is improved confidence in the economy and better investment sentiments.

“The country has recorded seven consecutive months of lower inflation, naira rate is beginning to stabilise, appreciating from N525 per $1 in  February this year to N360 today. Broad-based economic growth is leading us out of recession.

“Furthermore, in order to stabilise the polity, the Federal Government gave additional support to states in the form of State Excess Crude Account loans, Budget Support Facility, and Stabilisation Fund Release to state and local government as follows: N200bn in 2015; N441bn in 2016; and N1tn in 2017, totalling N1.642tn.

The President added that government’s current N500bn Special Intervention Programme was targeting groups through the Home-grown School Feeding Programme; N-Power job creation to provide loans to small-scale traders and artisans; Conditional Cash Transfer; Family Homes Fund and  Social Housing Scheme.

On corruption, Buhari said he was aware that fighting corruption was never going to be a straightforward task.

He said his administration expected corrupt elements to use any weapon to fight back, mainly judicial obstruction and political diversion.

Notwithstanding, he reaffirmed his administration’s determination to eradicate corruption from the nation.

He said the government had empowered teams of prosecutors, assembled detailed databases, and accelerated the recovery of stolen funds.

Buhari listed new institutional reforms to include enforcement of Treasury Single Account, the Whistle-blower Policy, and the Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System.

Saying there were signs of increasing cooperation from the judiciary in the fight against corruption, he called on the National Assembly to ensure swift passage of anti-corruption laws.

He added, “We have signed multilateral agreements on criminal matters with friendly countries. There are signs of increasing cooperation from the judiciary.

“Recently, the Chief Justice of the Federation directed heads of all our courts of first instance and Appeal to accelerate hearings of corruption cases and dismiss any judicial officers found to have been compromised.

“Justice Salami has just been appointed to chair the Judiciary’s anti-graft committee. Government expects a lot from this committee.

“I commend the National Assembly for refocusing on its oversight committees.



Independence: Buhari’s Speech Holds Prospects For Anti-Corruption Fight — CACOL

Buhari-broadcastThe Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership on Sunday described President Muhammad Buhari’s Independence Day speech as one that inspires hope for a better Nigeria.

The Chairman of the anti-corruption group, Mr Debo Adeniran, while reacting to the broadcast, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that the speech was particularly good for the anti-corruption fight.

He said the President reflected commitment and sincerity of purpose to the fight in the broadcast.

Adeniran pointed out that that the way the president sought the support of all stakeholders in the speech showed his resolve to tame the monster of corruption.

He said with the renewed commitment to fight as shown in the speech, the anti-corruption campaign had bright prospects of succeeding.

“The speech by the president to mark the 57th anniversary of Nigeria inspired great hope for a better country.

“With respect to the anti-corruption fight, the president reflected great sincerity of purpose and commitment in the broadcast.

“And the way he called on the National Assembly and the Judiciary for support, the president was humble and factual enough to show that corruption could not be fought by the executive alone.

“The president also outlined some of the ways in which he intend to make the fight more effective.

“This is what is expected of a leader and I think all Nigerians should support the president in the campaign,’’ he said.


Sheriff, Oyegun Visit Aso Rock, Meet Osinbajo

Ousted Peoples Democratic Party National chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff, on Thursday visited Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Sheriff, who is a former Governor of Borno State, arrived at Osinbajo’s office at about 3.30pm.

Osinbajo went into the closed-door meeting with Sheriff shortly after presiding over a meeting of the National Economic Management Team.

Moments after, the chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, joined the meeting.

There had been reports that the APC had approached Sheriff to join its fold, but the Borno State chapter of the APC had vehemently denied it.

High UTME Score No Guarantee For Varsity Admission –JAMB Registrar

Prof-Ishaq-Oloyede-JAMB-registrarThe Joint Admission and Matriculation Board says that only a combination of JAMB cut-off marks, post-UTME, ‘O’ level results and other admission criteria as determined by institutions can ensure candidates’ admission.

The JAMB registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, disclosed this at an intensive training and sensitisation forum on Central Admissions Processing System for the 2017/2018 academic session on Thursday in Abuja.

Oloyede said that scoring higher than the minimum cut-off marks did not guarantee admission, though it does make candidates eligible for admission consideration.

He added that institutions determine the institutional, programme and course cut-off marks and other admission criteria in exercise of their autonomy.

According to him, the cut-off mark by JAMB is only a threshold below which no institution can admit candidates.

“JAMB is not an examination body; rather, it is a ranking body. If there are enough spaces in the tertiary institutions, there may not be need for UTME.

“JAMB is a screening body to rank already qualified candidates. It is a coordinating and clearing house.

“The cut-off mark is not a pass or fail mark. It is not the total score but one of many factors such as post-UTME (where applicable), ‘O’ Level results scoring, etc.,” he explained.

He added that regulating agencies such as the National Universities Commission, National Board for Technical Education, National Commission for Colleges of Education, among others, could decide the admission quota for institutions.

He further explained that JAMB introduced CAPS so as to ensure that every UTME candidate gets fair treatment.

Oloyede said with CAPS, candidates now have the choice to either accept or reject admission offer.

He, however, advised candidates to ensure that they indicate the acceptance or rejection of admission online and timely to enable the processing of their admission.

He urged institutions to comply with their advertised criteria for admission, including the cut-off marks.

Illiteracy Rate In Nigeria Alarming, Says FG

adamu-The Federal Government on Thursday described the rate of illiteracy in the country as alarming.

The Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu, made the remark when he paid a courtesy call on Gov. Alhaji Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State in Birnin Kebbi on Thursday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister and the delegates were in the state for a two-day International Literacy Day conference organised by the National Commission for Mass Education.

Adamu said the country had about 65 million to 75 million illiterates, describing the figure as unbecoming and high, considering the country’s population.

“Education is the bedrock of any country’s development and any country that does not educate its populace is bound to fail.

“Unfortunately, in Nigeria we have a very large population of illiterates; the illiterates figure, considering our population, is unbecoming,’’ he said.

Adamu, who was represented by Mr Jonathan Mbaka, the Director of Basic and Secondary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, said that the federal government was targeting educating out-of-school children.

The minister said this was part of its strategic plan to reduce the number of the illiterates in the country.

“The government is doing all it can to reduce the number of children that are out of school.

“This includes the adoption of inclusive education where every Nigerian will be given the opportunity to go to school, regardless of background, ethnicity and gender,’’ he said.

Adamu commended the governor’s wife, Hajiya Aisha Bagudu, for reducing the number of out-of-school children and illiterates in Kebbi State through her Mass Almajiri Literacy and Poverty Alleviation Initiative (MALPAI).

Responding, the governor said that most of the security challenges the country faced were manifestations of the level of illiteracy in the country.

“We have an army of people whose inability to read can be exploited by divisive elements in the country

Bagudu commended them for ignoring the fears and tension created by a few group of people by assembling in the state to deliberate on how to reduce illiteracy in the country.

“I am very proud that we are hosting eminent delegates from across the federation at the time like this,where there is tension, and fear in Nigeria.

“For you to ignore fears that a few people cannot intimidate us is commendable.

“Our destiny remains in our hands and not allowing inconsequential elements to determine our fate is also commendable,’’ he said.

The governor attributed the high illiteracy rate in Nigeria to Boko Haram insurgency, saying that many of the sect’s followers only knew the Quran but could not interpret and digest its meanings.



Strike: FG Reaches Agreement With SSANU, NASU

NgigeThe Federal Government has reached an agreement with the Joint Action Committee of Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and National Association of Academic Technologist to suspend their strike after an eight-hour meeting in Abuja.

The SSANU President, Samson Ugwoke disclosed this after the meeting which began at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday and ended 12:20 a.m. on Thursday.

“The three-page agreement was signed and endorsed by all of us; We are taking our document and we will make our pronouncement soon,” he said without disclosing the details of the agreement.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said both parties had reached a consensus which would be passed to the union executive members for deliberation.

“Based on this conclusion, we all agreed that the JAC will consult its organ with a view to calling off the strike as soon as possible, ” he said.

Meanwhile, the Joint Health Sector Union has declared a nationwide indefinite strike with effect from Thursday.

Chairman of the Union, Mr. Biobelemoye Josiah, who announced this on Wednesday in Ilorin, Kwara State noted that the JOHETSU had earlier issued a a seven-day ultimatum on September 14, 2017, to again draw the attention of the government to their demands but no meaningful action was taken.

He said, “This lackadaisical attitude of the government has necessitated the resolve of JOHESU to call out all our members nationwide to withdraw their services and stay at home with effect from midnight of today (Wednesday) even after waiting patiently until this hour on the approval for adjustments of CONHESS.



2019 Poll: UN Pledges Support For Nigerian Female Politicians

UN WOMANThe United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) says it will support Nigerian female politicians vying for elective positions in the 2019 general elections.

The UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that there was the need to increase women participation in politics in Nigeria.

The UN women chief was at the Nigeria House where he met with the Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande and the Deputy Permanent Representative, Amb. Samson Itegboje.

Mlambo-Ngcuka had visited Nigeria in July alongside UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed to push ways to address the many challenges confronting girls and women in the country.

She said: “We also were in Nigeria to discuss the issue of women’s participation in politics.

“We were also in Nigeria for how we need to increase the number of women participation in politics in the next elections and the strategies to do that”.

According to her, the next step for UN Women in the area of women participation is helping to support the women who want to run in different parts of the country to prepare.

Mlambo-Ngcuka pledged the support of the UN women agency in this regard, saying the men do a lot to position themselves.

“So we will be working with other civil society,” the UN Women chief said.

According to her, she was at the Nigerian Mission to give the Ambassador feedback on the visit to Nigeria.

She added that the briefing also included the progress the UN Women was making in Nigeria and the progress that Nigeria was making at the time of the visit.

“We were able to renew our commitment to support girls that were affected by the abductions – the Chibok girls in particular.

“We were also able to look at the women and girls who were in the internally displaced persons’ camps and their conditions.

“This is to make sure that we address any violations of their rights that may happen. The government has already taken steps to address that, which we appreciate,” she said.

Mlambo-Ngcuka explained that the UN agency was also doing a lot in the area of women peace and security in general in the country.

“So it’s also supporting the different initiatives that government has in addressing the safety of women, including safe schools. So we were able to discuss the next steps.

She said the agency’s tactics was to join the activities of government to increase the awareness of the communities to what creates insecurity for the girls.

She added UN Women would also support the girls that had come back from Boko Haram abduction to de-stigmatise and to ensure their successful integration.

She commended Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for the way he handled the affairs of the country during the period he was in the saddle as the Acting President.

“When we were in Nigeria, we met with then Acting President and we really found each other on the same page and that’s why already we are seeing some follow-up.

“This includes the fact that he is a ‘HeForShe’ and he’s then committed to relaunching the ‘HeForShe’.

“We will relaunch the ‘HeForShe’ now with the President – Muhammadu Buhari,” the UN Women chief said.

‘HeForShe’ is a solidarity campaign for the advancement of women initiated by UN Women.

Its goal is to engage men and boys as agents of change by encouraging them to take action against negative inequalities faced by women and girls.



Saraki Explains National Assembly’s Occasional Differences With Presidency

The National Assembly occasionally differs with the executive arm of government to protect its constitutional mandate and integrity and to ensure that democratic dividends get across the country.

Against the backdrop of selfish interests, the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, affirmed that it was only a potent parliament that can strengthen and protect our democracy to champion the needs of the masses.

The Senate President, in a statement yesterday, signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said that Nigerians should not mistaken him as an individual for the parliament or office of the Senate President because after four years, he would leave the office and somebody else would occupy it.

 His words: “In four years after, I’m gone. Somebody else will be there, but the institution will always remain. If you have a weak parliament that is not effectively able to champion the needs of the people, you will have a weak democracy.’’

He regretted that on the premise of myopic interest at times, some people do not see why we must protect the mandate and integrity of these institutions.

‘The difference between democracy and dictatorship is parliament. This is why I tell people that it is not about who the Senate President, the President, or the Chief Justice of Nigeria is, we must always work to strengthen our institutions.”

Saraki underscored that the role of the legislature in a young democracy like Nigeria is often misconstrued which has made it necessary for the National Assembly to work towards impacting the lives of all Nigerians through its powers of lawmaking, oversight and advocacy.

He recalled that his focus since he assumed office as the presiding officer of the 8th Senate on June 9, 2015, has been to build an effective and efficient legislature that directly impacts the lives of all Nigerians.

As President of the Senate and first amongst equals, Saraki said, “what always motivates me is that drive to leave this institution better than we met it. I always like to leave a place stronger than I met it, and more capable to deliver on its constitutional role and functions than how it was before I got there.

“When we decided to have a presidential system of governance, it was based on the fact that there must be checks and balances. When these safeguards are in place, it strengthens our democracy and promotes the sort of collaboration across the board that helps us meet the needs of Nigerians,’’ Saraki noted.

Nonetheless, Saraki also pledged that the 8th Senate would continue to remain committed to people-centered governance.

He said the Senate would continue to target laws and interventions that will have direct benefits to all Nigerians which he said has started to yield positive impacts as commercial banks now lend more money to MSMEs.

With the slight improvement in our economy, Saraki said it behoves on the executive and the legislature to work hard to ensure that it translates meaningfully and directly to the pockets of Nigerians and reduce the rising cost of living across the country.