By Cecilia Ijuo
As the 8th National Assembly marks its second anniversary, the President of the Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki has said that the unity of Nigeria was not negotiatble.
Saraki who spoke at a special valedictory session to mark the anniversary of the Senate warned those who are insinuating Nigeria’s breakup to desist.
Saraki’s called followed remarks by other lawmakers urging the senate to take a position on the matter.
While commending lawmakers for their cooperation in ensuring that challnges faced at the onset were overcome, he added that the Senate would in the same unity ensure that Nigeria was not divided.
“I thank you all for your contribution and kind words and words of encouragement.
“ We have done two years and for the second part, we must be ready to take on the issues before us.
“As we promised we want to conclude the Constitution Review exercise to be one more promise kept.
“ Also the senate must stand clearly to defend one Nigeria. There is no room for division and we must live by example. The next two years will be more challenging but we must stand together.
“Another is the fight against corruption. We will ensure that agencies know we will ensure transparency. We are not afraid of anybody,’’ he said.
He called on the various standing committees to their oversight function seriously, urging them to be bold to expose corrupt practices in the course of their duties.
He also called on the need to build institutions rather for a sustainable democracy, adding that institution lived beyond certain tenure of government.
Saraki thanked the management of the National Assembly as well as newsmen for their contributions.
He called on the lawmakers to continue to remember late Sen. Isiaka Adekele, passed on few months ago in their prayers, while praying for the repose of his soul.
Some lawmakers who spoke called on the National Assembly, particularly the Senate to rise against recurrent secessionist moves in some parts of the country.
They expressed concern that while the Federal Government was preaching peace and unity, some parts of the country were strongly bent on seceding or threatening to cause mayhem.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Sen. George Akume, said the senate must rise up to make a statement condemning the various agitations in parts of the country.
He said if the senate kept quiet in the face of the agitations, it would be failing as a major legislative arm of government.
“I want to call the attention of this Senate to movements in this country, including Biafra, Arewa, some groups in the Western part of the country and many others.
“ We must rise up to make a statement on what is happening. We will be failing if we do not do something that will reassure the people on the need for one Nigeria.
“We are greater being together than going our separate ways,’’ he said.
Similarly, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt, Sen. Shehu Sani, said it was time the senate spoke vehemently against such agitations, engulfing some parts of the country.
According to him, the next two years would be a challenging one and the senate must not be seen to be indifferent about the challenges confronting the nation, particularly calls for secession.
“It is not what we say about ourselves that matters but what history has to say about us.
“I believe we have been able to work together over these two years despite the turbulent start. The challenge before us is what we can do to address the political, social and economic issues before us.
“The next two years will be tougher because of moves for secession,’’ he said.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Sen. Dino Melaye called on the Senate to brace up for more challenges as it began the third year of its tenure.
He said, while the upper chamber had achieved tremendous successes within its two years tenure, it needed to be more confidence in the years ahead for more challenges.
“ With all our successes, it is time for the senate to be bolder than ever, to speak with more confidence, to speak in the interest of Nigerians.
“We must hold on that which is true. The persecution in the first half should not be entertained in the second half.
“Please tighten your sit belts and tell the truth and we must identify that there is a uniform law and we should not allow selective application of the law,’’ he said.
Melaye commended President Muhammadu Buhari for respecting Senate decisions, particularly with regard to nominations.
He however urged him to take a decisive action on Senate’s rejection of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC), saying, “ why is Magu still in office.’’
He called for more synergy among the lawmakers in the interest of the country at large and Nigerians in particular.
“I am happy that the Chairman of APC is here. Two years ago we were on two separate divide.
“Some of us were in the chamber and some took excursion to International Conference Center (ICC), but today nobody is anywhere, as we are here as one indivisible senate.
“I salute the intellectual mobility of the President of the Senate, a man of style that has brought direction to Senate.
“Were it not for the president, things would not have been this stable. Many may not appreciate what I am saying because they don’t like your face but that is the truth.
The Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, called on all Nigerians to unite against forces meant to cause disunity the country.
He said Nigerians were looking forward to the leaders at all arms to deliver the dividends of democracy, adding that leaders should look beyond party affiliation.
“ I remind you that after an election there is a people to govern. The Federal Government should avail itself to all Nigerians so that we do not create insecurity in some parts of the country,’’ he said.
He congratulated the security agencies for stemming the tide of violence in the country and urged them to do more to ensure the security of lives and property.
Akpabio further commended the leadership of the senate, particularly Saraki, for leading the upper chamber through all the challenges it faced in the last two years.
“I commend Saraki for his leadership prowess and for the achievements so far. Whenever a bill came from the government we did panel beat it to make it work for the benefit of Nigerians
“We passed 96 bills, which is historical but we have to do more. There is still a lot to be done.
“If the executive can implement most of the guidelines and decisions we take here Nigeria will get out of recession,’’ he said.