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Election: Saraki cautions against overheating polity


[FILE PHOTO] Senate President, Bukola Saraki

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki has cautioned politicians against overheating the polity ahead the general elections.

Saraki made this call while delivering his welcome speech at the resumption of plenary on Wednesday.

The National Assembly had on Dec. 20, 2018, proceeded on Christmas break to resume on Jan. 16.


He said it was important for political leaders to help reduce tension in the polity by contributing to an atmosphere of moderate political conversations.

He further called on the Executive to uphold the Constitution and its tenets, particularly basic requirement of separation of power, unity and welfare of the citizens.

According to him, the exercise of power must be done in the best democratic principles.

“The former US, President Obama’s Doctrine of Restraint as a key feature in the use of power would be recommended to us in this polity at this crucial time.

“Some of the reports and occurrences in recent times speak to this need for restraint.

“Those who exercise power should do their best to avoid any action that stands the risk of being misconstrued as coloured by partisan considerations.”

On the role of the Judiciary in promoting justice and bringing respect to the country, Saraki said there was a need to respect it as an arm of government.

“Everyone in the political value chain should therefore do nothing that would raise tension in the country.

“Nigerians are looking up to leaders who will douse flames that have the potential to threaten the peace and well-being of our country.

“I urge you, my distinguished colleagues, to bear all this in mind as we move towards the end of this historic Senate.

“The integrity of the constitution must be preserved at all times; and service to the people in a unified country should be our ultimate goal in all that we do as legislators.

“I enjoin us all to bear in mind that it should be a contest of ideas. We should eschew ad hominem approaches to political discourse, and communicate our ideas in a civil manner”.

Saraki also said “the issue of PVCs remains a concern.

The president of the senate called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to give urgent attention to the matter.

According to him, issue has similarly been raised about people buying PVCs; this should also be looked into.

“Let me take this opportunity to reiterate the need for INEC to bring relevant stakeholders together for a dialogue on a way forward to tackle these issues, ahead of the elections.

“Everything must be done and every sacrifice must be made to ensure free and fair 2019 elections. INEC is encouraged to engage the parties and be transparent in its decision making.

“It is important that the people are assured of the Commission’s resolve and commitment to credible elections.

“To all Nigerians, we must have a country after the elections. We all still have to live among ourselves when the polls have closed and the elections are over.

“The rhetoric leading up to the elections must therefore be mindful of the need for moderation, decorum and respect.

“To those of us who are contesting, let us remember that our biggest offer is to serve.”

He equally said, ultimately, the Nigerian people have a right to choose who will represent them at all levels. It is not a do-or-die affair.

He encouraged all Nigerians to participate in the coming polls and while wishing all a safe 2019 election.

On the legislature, Saraki assured Nigerians that despite heightened political activities leading to the general elections, the National Assembly would continue its legislative activities.

Saraki said despite the season, the legislature would work hard to fulfil its mandates as contained in the 1999 Constitution (Amended).

“Distinguished colleagues, it is an honour to welcome you all back after the festive break.

“Although, the political season has swung into full gear, it is my hope that you were able to get a bit of rest and you have recharged your batteries, ready to dive back into legislative work with renewed vigour.

“As evident all around us, the New Year has met our countrymen and women in an anticipatory mood. Spirits are high, because in this year 2019, Nigeria has a date with destiny.

“But we also know that despite all, the work of leadership must go on; governance must not suffer,” he said.

The president of the senate urged his colleagues not to relent in ensuring that the 8th Senate brought its legislative agenda to a fitting close.

“We cannot relent or lose steam on this last lap. We must remain focused and finish strong.

“This is an epoch making Senate that had, by the end of 2018, passed an unprecedented 257 bills.

“Many of which are groundbreaking enough to change the game to meet the needs of Nigerians, with the potential to radically transform their lives for the better.

“Nigerians expect us to continue in this vein, and we owe it to ourselves to meet their expectations.

“The legacy of the 8th Senate will be written in the legislative footprints that we leave, and the foundation that we lay.”

He further urged his colleagues to work towards in addressing issues affecting Nigerians, particularly unemployment, lack of economic opportunities and insecurity.

“The 2019 Elections are just over a month away, and the expectations of Nigerians as the dates draw near, is that we continue to serve as the representatives they voted for.

“In our work in this chamber, we are expected to rise about the partisan paradigm.

“We should address our minds to, and always channel our efforts to how we can move our country forward.

“Nigerians want to see leaders who will not succumb to the partisan instinct in lawmaking. They want to see leaders who will bring new ideas to bear on the challenges confronting the country.

“These include out-of-school children figures; rebuilding the North East; securing the North West; increasing the Girl Child education as well as how we navigate our way in the economy for higher productivity,” he said.

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