President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has charged his colleagues to roll up their sleeves for the daunting tasks ahead, which he said, must begin in earnest.
In a welcome address to the senators, which he read at plenary on Tuesday, Lawan listed poverty, insecurity, corruption among the ills plaguing the nation and which the lawmakers must be prepared to tackle.
“Distinguished colleagues, it should worry us in this chamber that the 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 challenges posed by insurgents, kidnappers, armed robbers, and other criminal cartels from North to South, East to West will require our collective efforts.
“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, but we will also 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”, Lawan said.
Bemoaning dwindling national resources amid rising population, the President of the Senate said the expectation of the people had remained huge, stressing that the legislature must work together with the executive arm to bridge the gap.
Continuing, the President of the Senate said, “Therefore, in a season when the majority of Nigerians are more concerned with outcomes that reflect their concerns, the best way to serve that interest is through cooperation and collaboration.
“So, in exercising our mandate as lawmakers, we must at all times, and in all circumstances, be guided by how our action will positively impact the greater majority of our people.
“I have in recent weeks had discussions with President Muhammadu Buhari on the challenges facing the country and how we can leverage our position as lawmakers to help him deliver on his mandate.
“I will be doing more of that in the coming weeks and months. If we must build an economy that lifts the majority of our people out of poverty, there is a need for a serious collaboration between the executive and the legislature.
“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”.
Cautioning against the adversarial relationship between the legislature and the executive arms, Lawan said the system of checks and balances is meant to safeguard the values of justice and the rule of law and deliver public good.
Stating that the problems confronting the country although quite enormous, they are not insurmountable if all arms of government can work together as members of the same government, with different roles.
This, according to him, will help to collectively achieve goals and to better a lot of the Nigerian people.
He lamented the high number of out-of-school children across the country, saying that every child, regardless of where they live or what their circumstances may be, have the right to quality education.
“Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, over 10 million of the country’s children aged 5 – 14 years are out of school. This is a challenge for us in the next four years”, he added.
Lawan further charged the senators on constructive debates and respect for one another, especially within the hallowed chambers while pledging to lead in a bipartisan and unifying manner.
He reminded his colleagues on the need to consolidate on the oil sector reforms started by the last Senate, stressing that the legislature must help the executive to reinvigorate the war against corruption with the necessary legislation.