The out-gone President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Abubakar Saraki, has confirmed that there was actually unfriendly relationship between the Executive, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the two chambers of the National Assembly, headed by him and Yakubu Dogara of the House of Representatives.
Senator Saraki, who delivered his valedictory message today, June 6 before the close of the legislative session of the 8th Senate said: “it is also important that I make some comments about Legislature-Executive Relations. My own take is that if the Executive sees the National Assembly’s work on the budget as interference despite the provision of the constitution, then there will continue to be problems between both arms of government.
“If the presidency refuses to have engagements and consultations with the leadership of the National Assembly before the president submits the budget to the legislature, then there will continue to be frictions.”
He also acknowledged that there were things the Senate was supposed to do but didn’t do before the expiration of the tenure of the leadership, though he did not mention the specific things that were not done.
“And as we say all the things we have done, we must also be reflective and candid enough to acknowledge the things we didn’t do. It is my hope that the ninth Senate will improve on our performance and deliver on those areas that we were not quite able to touch.”
Senator Saraki thanked his colleagues for their support even in the face of trials even as he said that the Senate invasion of the Senate chamber by security operatives sometime in August 2018, which led to the theft of the mace, would remain ‘saddest’ moment for him.
“Distinguished colleagues, let me thank each and every one of you for your contributions towards making this the historic Senate that it is. When I think of the many trials and tribulations we have faced as an institution, and my own personal travails, particularly at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, I am humbled, because none of our achievements would have been possible without the support and cooperation of the entire members of this chamber.
“The invasion of the National Assembly by armed security operatives in August 2018 will live in infamy. This way down the line, however, I realise that the day of that invasion was the saddest – but in many ways it was also a good day for asserting the independence of the legislature and the triumph of democracy.
“It also turned out to be a showcase of the special relationship between this chamber and the House, as Honourable Members stood in unison with their Senate colleagues in defiance of the invaders. I thank the House of Representatives for the remarkable unity of the two chambers of the 8th National Assembly, for it was only in unity that we could withstand the storm.”
He rolled out some of the achievements of the Senate under his leadership, saying that some of such achievements was the effort on National Assembly Joint Public Hearing on the Budget, Senate’s roundtable, intervention in the North East, intervention in the two-year strike of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), engagement with the executive among others.
Others are making public, the National Assembly budget and setting aside of one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.
“Just the other week, the Minister of Health called the 1 per cent CRF a ‘game changer’, no doubt because, by our activities in this chamber, we are touching the lives of Nigerians and even those unborn.
“Speaking of commendations, our interventions on health also won plaudits from international philanthropists Bill Gates and Bono, as well as the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Similarly, our amendment of the Universal Basic Education Act, guaranteeing free education for children aged nine to twelve, won praise from education rights activist and Nobel Laureate, Malala Yousafzai.
“We cracked the code of several Bills that had eluded Senates before us. We broke the decade-old Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into a quartet of workable bills including the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), whose passage stands as a major achievement of the eigth Senate. The Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) was the most comprehensive reform law governing Nigeria’s business environment in nearly 30 years. The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill was one of the major anti-corruption laws we passed; and it saved the country from being expelled from the global body of the Egmont Group. And as recently as May 22, we passed the Nigerian Football Federation Bill which had been caught in the legislative bottleneck for 15 years.”