18 June 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Newly-elected Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has assured Nigerians that the eighth National Assembly under his leadership would revisit the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, whose passage was stalled by the last parliament.
He also promised that the Senate would address the prevalent corruption in Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, by ensuring that the sum for its operations is specified.
Saraki made this commitment when some civil groups under the aegis of Civil Society Situation Room, led by Mr. Clement Nwankwo, paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja.
The Senate President noted that lack of provisions for operational budget for agencies generating revenue for the federal government gives room for leakages.
According to him, “Such era where there was deliberate non-provision of operation budget for agencies of government to function was over.”
Among other bills he said the eight Senate would consider are 1999 Constitution Amendment bill and 2011 Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
He said, “Some of us have strong views that issues of budget must be transparent, particularly; days are gone where agencies like the NNPC would be functioning without operational budget.
“We must move away from that because one of the key issues that we have now is the issue of revenue leakages due to lack of transparency.”
Saraki observed that some of the bills were critical to the current reform agenda of the federal government and hence needed to be given accelerated attention.
“You have raised a number of bills, one of which is the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which is key to deepening the electoral process. More importantly, is the constitution amendment, which was unfortunate that after all the work that was done, it could not be assented to.
“I can assure you that as soon as we resume, we will begin discussion on how to go about bringing all those people-oriented bills back with a view to fast tracking their passage. As soon as we resume, we will find a way of fast tracking some of these people-oriented bills that are still left to be attended to,” he noted.
The Senate President also promised that the Senate would strive to promote transparency in governance.
“On the issue of transparency of oversight, we will work very hard to see the areas where there can be improvement on our part.
“As duly elected representatives of the people, we will work closely with every stakeholder in our onerous task of building a prosperous, secure and egalitarian society where the dividend of democracy will be felt by the people,” he added.
He appealed to civil groups to be more proactive and constructive in their reactions to issues as he promised that lawmakers would be transparent in the discharge of their duties.
According to him, “I recognise the importance of civil society organisations in a nascent democracy. You have done creditably well so far. On our part as legislators, we will be open, transparent and accept to work together as a team in order to translate our abundant resources to the betterment of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“The Senate will be steadfast and improve on our oversight functions. The budget processes will be transparent. We will continue to prevent revenue leakages and enact laws that are relevant to the welfare of the people.”
Speaking earlier, the convener of the group, Nwankwo, said the visit was meant to seek partnership in the governance process of the country.
He sought the support and partnership of the National Assembly in the passage of bills on the wellbeing of people living with disability; Electoral Act (as amended); PIB and the Constitutional Amendment Bill.
Nwankwo also promised to work with the National Assembly with a view to evolving issue-based legislations devoid of bickering and confrontation with the executive in order to achieve stable democracy.