PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
SENATOR ANYIM PIUS ANYIM
TO MEDIA EXECUTIVES ON
SENATE ROUND TABLE
ROCK VIEW HOTEL, ABUJA,
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10TH 2000.
On behalf of my colleagues, distinguished Senators and indeed members of the National Assembly, I have the pleasure to welcome you to this interactive forum – Senate Round Table This forum is principally designed to provide opportunity for the new Senate leadership to brief the public adequately through your various media establishments on people and events in the Senate.It is our desire to make it regular, and indeed an important part of our assignment.
Under this arrangement, we expect an open, frank and constructive dialogue with you on all key national issues as they affect the Senate and, the National Assembly. I also intend to share with you our concern for responsibility in the collective efforts to sustain democratic principles and values.
A close look at media executives represented here, shows that we have carefully assembled what I consider the best and most influential media practitioners across the country. I am highly encouraged and grateful for your prompt response to our invitation.
Let me also use this opportunity to thank you for the support and solidarity since assumption of office as President of the Senate. My colleagues and I, look forward to a new mutually beneficial working relationship with you based on freedom of expression, guided by responsibility and partnership.
Our goal is to sustain democracy and the rule of law in our land. As you are aware,
democracy and the rule of law means nothing to an average Nigerian if these do not translate into improved quality of life including access to education, employment, housing, transportation, health services and other vital areas of development.
Since the inauguration of the Senate, we have made our mistakes in some areas but we are encouraged that we have also taken steps to correct ourselves. Within the last one year, the Senate has passed a total of twelve Bills on crucial success areas of our national life. The bills already passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President during this period include:
- The Anti-Corruption Bill,
- The Niger Delta Development Commission Bill. This bill was passed by 2/3 majority of both the Senate and House of Representative, as a result the future of the President to accent to the bills as at and when due.
- The Appropriation Bills 1999 and year 2000, The Bill on the Establishment of Police Service Commission, passed in April this year.
- The Bill on the new National Minimum Wage.
- The Bill on the Establishment of National Assembly Service Commission is now before the President for accent Each of these bills went through all the rigorous procedures of parliamentary legislations.
At the moment, a total of 37 other bills duly sponsored at the floor of the Senate and are at various legislative stages. Notable among them are:
- The Bill for an Act to amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
- The Bill on the status of Abuja,
- The bill on reflection of Federal Character in the Nigerian Armed Forces,
- The Universal Basic Education Bill and,
- Bills to repeal all media laws repugnant to press freedom in our country.
Deliberations on these bills have been stepped up at various committee levels since we came into office. I also wish to inform you that in the past one year, over (90) ninety motions, including those on matters of urgent national importance have been moved at the floor of the Senate.
These motions helped to draw Federal Government’s utmost attention to urgent problems capable of undermining peace, security and welfare of Nigerians. An example is the recent motion urging the Federal Government to take urgent steps to facilitate the bringing home of some Nigerians being repatriated from some countries, in particular, Libya. Other examples include, the NLC strike over the minimum wage, various flood disasters in parts of the country and the incidence of armed robbery and banditry.
We have also taken measures to strengthen all committees in the Senate especially in the areas of funding and provision of facilities. This is to facilitate their work on various matters relating to their committees and in particular, the bills pending before them. This step is in full realization of the importance of committees in parliamentary proceedings.
The Senate leadership has equally introduced a new spirit in handling important issues before the Senate. This new spirit is based on collective responsibility and team- work. The on-going debate on Kuta Report is an example. Contrary to speculations, that the Senate is poised to kill the report, our concern is to ensure that justice is done to all and malice to none.
Accordingly, in handling the report we adopted the following procedure, the committee through its chairman formally presented its report, the Senators that were indicted by the report were allowed to make further clarifications. After this,
opportunities were equally given to other distinguished Senators to air their views on the same report.
When debate on the report was concluded I weighed the preponderance of opinion and after due consultation with the body of principal officers, I constituted
a committee to harmonize the views expressed during the debate as a just cause to follow. It is expected that the Senate will take the final decision on the report based on the recommendations of the committee.
As President of the Senate and the presiding officer, I am aware of the interest which the report is generating in the minds of Nigerians and the International Community.
However, I wish to plead that the Senate which in its wisdom started it all, should be given every chance devoid of pressure to end it all in a manner that will be fair, just and acceptable to all. I equally plead with the media to exercise restraint and moderation in its comments and analysis of the issues involved.
My dear media executives, my vision for the Senate and the National Assembly is to provide the necessary leadership to place the average Nigerian at the center of developmental policies through qualitative legislations. I shall work with my colleagues to achieve this. Above all, my colleagues and I are equally committed to sustain this democracy at all costs. It is the only way, the only option and the only hope for Nigeria.
This meeting is convened to dialogue with you on the attainment of this goal. Your opinions are very important at all times. I am also to request that you see the new Senate as a friend and partner in progress. We have nothing to hide. Feel free to ask questions, make your inquiries and give us a fair opportunity to state our side of the storv.
In this direction, I am particularly concerned about stories that are published or sponsored with a mind set to bring down a public officer. I accept that our polity is dirty and requires cleansing. But I do not accept that every Nigerian Senator or politician is corrupt. There are still many Nigerians that believe in principles, dignity, respect, transparency and hard work. Please, let us encourage them by being objective in the use of our pen. I welcome you to this first edition of Senate Round