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Campaigns won’t affect passage of priority bills, says Saraki


Senate President Bukola Saraki PHOTO: TWITTER/ NIGERIAN SENATE

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has assured Nigerians that legislative duties in the National Assembly would not be relegated to the background due to the commencement of the 2019 electioneering campaigns.

He made the promise while responding to comments by the Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Harriet Thompson, who visited him at the National Assembly.

“It is very important to emphasise that as far as we are concerned, we will follow through on the key Bills. We will continue to work on them because they are priorities to the 8th National Assembly.

“For example, the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) has never gotten this far in its history. However, both chambers of the National Assembly worked very hard to come up with a unified position and sent it to the executive. Unfortunately, it came back with some minor issues that we feel should not have affected the progress of the Bill. These were issues that could have been easily addressed.

“The two arms of government must see that the most important thing is for us to get the PIGB going because it has a lot of impact on the industry in terms of transparency, accountability and ensuring that the revenues of the petroleum sector are well managed,” the Senate president said.

According to him, the Police Reform Bill would soon be subjected to public hearing.

“The Bill came about as an immediate response by parliament to the increased reports of insecurity across the country. We took the decision to evaluate the security situation, particularly the police, to see how best we could make the institution more effective and efficient. Unfortunately, as we work towards these reforms of the police, I must be honest, many of the actions of the police are seen to be quite partisan.”

He said the lawmakers had passed the Electoral Bill and sent it to the executive.

“We have addressed all the concerns raised by Mr. President because we believe that that Bill is important to improve the quality of our elections and our electoral process. We want an electoral process that will make our elections more credible. Therefore, I hope that the interest of the country should be the determining factor in the decision to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.”

Earlier, the British envoy had advised against relegating legislative duties to the background with the onset of campaigns for the 2019 general elections in the country.

“There are quite a number of Bills in which we have key interests because we firmly believe that these Bills are in the interest of the Nigerian people both in terms of their rights and in terms of their opportunities for economic development,” Thompson said.

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