National Assembly seeks peace, good governance

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DESPITE the time-table announced by the National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the general elections next year, politicians have been urged against jetissoning good governance for politicking.

“It is too early for 2019 politicking to override the legislative agenda and the larger work of governance. We have begun a good thing with the recovery of the economy as the core of our agenda; let us see it to its proper conclusion”, Senate President Bukola Saraki told his colleagues at the upper chamber yesteday.

In the Green Chamber, Yakubu Dogara said there are no sanctuaries anywhere in the country for killers and other hardened criminals who feed on the people’s blood.

It was in their remarks at the resumption of the National Assembly in Abuja after the Christmas/New Year recess.

The Senate President kicked against the heightening frenzy that has been trailing INEC’s announcement of the time-table earlier in the year. He warned that it was too early to sacrifice good governance and legislative works on the altar of 2019 politicking.

Describing the lingering fuel scarcity in parts of the country as man-made, the Senate President spoke of the Red Chamber’s plan to unmask the mastermind.

Saraki said: “Distinguished colleagues, it is my appeal to each and every one of us, that our legislative duty to Nigeria and her people must be uppermost in our minds.

“We must not allow the upcoming 2019 elections to overshadow our work for the people that elected us – or distract us from that which we are mandated to do by the constitution and the trust reposed in us by the people.

“We have begun a good thing with the economic core of our agenda; let us see it to its proper conclusion. It would be most insensitive to the needs of the people of this country if we were to do otherwise. I am directing this appeal not only to us in the chamber but to the National Assembly as a whole, as well as to the executive and indeed all political actors.

“Many were on the queue for petrol; many households are grief-stricken. This mood of reflection is also one from which no lawmaker is immune; what affects one, affects all. When one part of the body is hurting, the whole body hurts, and this holds true for the entire nation.

“We have all been witnesses to the hardships with which many Nigerians saw in the New Year, stuck on fuel queues tailing from petrol stations in many of our cities. It has been disheartening to see, especially during the festive period when Nigerians should have been enjoying carefree time with their loved ones, with enough petrol in their tanks to make that cherished journey to their various hometowns.

“We, as representatives of the people, feel the pain of the people. Things being the way they were, we could not but respond to the crisis. I therefore had to direct members of the Senate Investigative Panel on Fuel Scarcity to cut short their recess to commence hearings into the lingering problem; and that work is ongoing. I commend the committee for their prompt response and the work carried out.

“We seek the cooperation and understanding of Nigerians as we try to get to the bottom of this issue. My own estimation of the fuel scarcity phenomenon is that it is man-made. We thought we had left the problem of fuel queues firmly in the past in this country, but sadly, that appears not to be the case. In any event, there is a problem, and it must be solved. We await the findings of the Investigative Panel on Fuel Scarcity, firm in our resolve that whoever is responsible must pay the price for visiting this needless hardship upon our people.

“You will agree with me that even more sober reflection attends the killings in some parts of the country, particularly recent tragic events in Benue State.

“We condemn these killings in the strongest terms, and we declare that mindless bloodletting has no place in our society. I offer our sincerest condolences to the people of Benue, and indeed to all who have suffered the loss of their loved ones as a result of these wanton acts.

“Human life is sacred. We state without equivocation that Nigerian life must become sacred. When we fail in our duty to protect Nigerian lives, it is a tragedy and an indictment on us all.

“We as the Eighth Senate stand ready to help find solutions to assuage the hurt to affected parts, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to enthrone peace in all four corners of this country.”“There are no sanctuaries anywhere in the country for killers and other hardened criminals who feed on the blood of people. The solution to the mindless killings and bloodletting lies in the ability to shun buck passing. The government must live up to its responsibility of providing security for the lives of every Nigerian, irrespective of where they live”, Dogara said yesterday.

Reacting to the killings in Rivers, Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Zamfara, Adamawa, Edo and other states, the Speaker said that agents of destruction and destabilisation would no longer feel comfortable anywhere across the country.

He reminded his colleagues that they as leaders, cannot afford fold their hands and pretend that “all is well” with the country.

Dogara said: “We have a responsibility to all Nigerians regardless of creed or ethnicity in line with the constitutionally stated primary purpose of the government we serve in, which is securing the welfare including the lives and property of our people.

“This we must do by ensuring that every law abiding Nigerian is protected where ever he chooses to live in the country and everyone who is up in arms against our citizens is quickly brought to justice where ever they are in the country. That there are no sanctuaries anywhere in the country for killers and other hardened criminals who feed on the blood of our people.

“We are all painfully aware of the wave of murders of innocent Nigerians that has been sweeping through the nation. From the senseless killings in Rivers State, to the killing rampages in Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Zamfara, Adamawa, Edo and other states; our dear country is now being painted red with the blood of the innocents on account of unremitting bedlam callously promoted by cold hearted merchants of death.

“On behalf of the House of Representatives, I wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to the governments, people, and especially families of those who have lost loved ones in these primitive, mindless and despicable rounds of bloodletting across our dear country.

“At these moments of intense outpouring of grief across the nation, it is important that we shun buck passing and accept responsibility for these wanton killings without which we will never find a solution to this evil.

“We cannot afford to fold our hands and pretend that all is well with our country. We cannot throw up our hands in defeat. We have a responsibility to all Nigerians regardless of creed or ethnicity in line with the constitutionally stated primary purpose of the government we serve in, which is securing the welfare including the lives and property of our people.

“This we must do by ensuring that every law abiding Nigerian is protected where ever he chooses to live in the country and everyone who is up in arms against our citizens is quickly brought to justice where ever they are in the country. That there are no sanctuaries anywhere in the country for killers and other hardened criminals who feed on the blood of our people.”

The Speaker warned that no one or group should be allowed to foist the reign of tragedy and group polarisation on the country, saying that violence will never result in victories.

According to him, parties should adopt democratic ways of addressing conflicts through compromise and consensus.

He went on: “Those who pride themselves in violence must be reminded of the self-defeating nature of violence: the fact that violence only begets violence and that true victory has never been won by violence.

“It was Mahatma Gandhi who delivered a timeless rebuke to the fools who worship brute force by reminding them that, “victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat for it is momentary.

“We have to preach this message to our people who must not only accept the inevitability of conflict as well as the necessity for tolerance but must learn not to pursue conflict violently but democratically, in ways that result in compromise and consensus as the culture of democracy demands.”

Expressing condolence to the government, people and victims of the attacks, Dogara said that President Muhammadu Buhari had briefed the National Assembly leadership on the steps being taken to contain killer herdsmen and other criminals who kill with impunity.

He said that the measures, if applied as designed, will put an end to the sad incidents.

On the issue of the alleged reintroduction of fuel subsidy and scarcity of the product, the Speaker charged the relevant committees of the House to unravel the causes and claims, saying “except the executive adduces compelling reasons the reverse is the case, it will amount to a betrayal to still pay subsidies after they had been assured that it had been ended.”

He said: “We expected that with the legislative cooperation given to the executive arm to effect an increase in the fuel price from N87 per litre to N145, and based on their assurances, incidents of fuel scarcity would be a thing of the past.

“We were also assured that fuel subsidy had come to an end. From recent developments on this subject, except the Executive adduces compelling reasons why the reverse is the case, we will be justified in feeling betrayed.

“As parliamentarians, we must unravel the causes of this scarcity and the alleged re-introduction of fuel subsidy. I charge our relevant Committees to get to the root of these issues through the instrumentality of oversight to enable the House take an informed position on this totally undeserving precarious situation that our already overburdened citizens are subjected to. This has to be done with minimal delay.”


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