By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan yesterday disclosed that for the past two weeks when the National Assembly was on vacation, he had discussions with President Muhammadu Buhari on the challenges facing the country and what the President expects from senators in turning around the situation of the country.
Delivering his welcome address yesterday after the lawmakers resumed from their two weeks break, Lawan said “It is trite to say that we all have our job cut out for us. If we must build an economy that lifts majority of our people out of poverty, there is need for a serious collaboration between the executive and the legislature.”
He said there are people for whom any notion that the leadership of a National Assembly controlled by the ruling party work in harmony with the executive is anathema, adding that he is not for any adversarial or acrimonious relationship with the executive.
“I intend to work closely with President Buhari in the interest of Nigeria without compromising the integrity of the National Assembly as an independent arm of government with oversight powers.
“As lawmakers, one of the powerful tools we have for our work is the power of oversight which is meant to enhance transparency and accountability. In exercising these powers, we will not only review, monitor and supervise projects being implemented by the executive, we will critically examine them vis-à-vis the cost and whether they align with our national aspirations.
“And we will follow the progress of these projects right from conception to when they are finally delivered to the people. But we will do so with every sense of responsibility.”
Speaking further, the Senate President said in a period of dwindling resources amid rising population, the expectations of the people remain huge, pointing out that to deliver those services, the executive and the legislature must work together.
He therefore charged his colleagues to realise that in exercising their mandate as lawmakers, they must at all times, and in all circumstances, be guided by how their actions will positively impact the greater majority of the people.
“Each of us, as lawmakers, must also resolve that the exchange of views, especially within this hallowed chambers, will be constructive and that we will respect one another. Tolerance, which we cannot legislate upon in this chambers, is a virtue we must all strive to promote in a bid to reposition our multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. On my part, I pledge to lead in a bipartisan and unifying manner.
“Distinguished colleagues, it should worry us in this chamber that majority of our people still grapple with extreme poverty. But while how to tackle the growing inequality should be part of our legislative agenda, the security challenge posed by insurgents, kidnappers, armed robbers and other criminal cartels from North to South, East to West will require our collective efforts. We also need to consolidate on the oil sector reforms started by the last Senate even as we help the executive to reinvigorate the war against corruption with necessary legislations”, Lawan said.