Chris Steven, Abuja
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Monday, urged the management of the National Assembly to make accountability and transparency its watchword, so as to enable the legislature achieve its goal of a sustainable and fully diversified economy.
Saraki gave this charge in his speech at the opening session of a retreat for the management staff of the National Assembly in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, added that the leadership of the bureaucracy of the apex legislative body in the land must come up with solutions that would positively enhance the work of lawmakers at all times.
He said it has become critical for the management to up its game as the 8th National Assembly strives to support the executive in realizing a well developed and inclusive economy.
“As we all know, this is a critical time for us as a nation. We are going through difficult times, recession, security issues, widespread hunger, unemployment, incessant rises in inflation, dwindling opportunities,” Saraki said. “The nation looks up to the National Assembly for direction and to provide opportunities for our people. It has become quite apparent to us that it is no longer business as usual.
“It is against this background, that it is imperative that management is fit for the task ahead of us and lives up to its responsibilities – to deliver coherent, effective, and efficient support as we pursue our vision for the development of the Nigerian economy into one of the most diversified and very inclusive economies in Africa,” he said.
While thanking the organizers of the retreat, Saraki noted that the National Assembly was established not only as the highest law-making institution in the country but more important, as the enabler of the executive to provide for the welfare and security of our people.
“At no time in our history has the need for synergy of purpose and drive to embrace and give full effect to this obligation been more acute than now,” Saraki said: “The present National Assembly is fully committed to this obligation and it is in you (management) that we will rely on to play our role effectively.”
He further noted that the overarching goal of the current National Assembly “is to place the Nigerian economy on the path to sustainable growth, poverty elimination, economic opportunities, deal squarely with corruption and tackle injustices around us.”
He added that the 8th National Assembly places premium on the efficacy of staff productivity as they remain its best hope of achieving its agenda.
“But you, the management must also ensure staff commitment and dedication to the task,” he added, noting that: “As legislators, we acknowledge that the achievements of this agenda is not possible without the co-operation of management.
“In a world of growing challenges and vulnerability, we cannot afford not to stand together. To work in isolation or let personal interests stand in the way of harnessing the many strengths in our structure would be doing dis-service to the people we serve.
“It is time to show that the National Assembly is ready to play its role as a primer of development and the watchdog for the sustenance of democracy. We cannot be seen in the same light as in past times. We need to sanitize our structure and lead by example.
“Management accountability and transparency is now paramount. Indiscipline and laxity can no longer be tolerated. Obedience to laws in force as it relates to anti-corruption must be enforced.
“Finally, I have just one task for this retreat which is also a plea. The task I place before you is to come up with solutions for improving the National Assembly” Saraki said, adding that “There is no doubt that we need to take the work ethos far higher than we have today. We need your innovative ideas that will ultimately attract the best brains to work and be retained here.”
While saying that he looks forward to receiving solid and actionable recommendations from the management at the close of the retreat, the Senate President said: “I count on you to bring your bright ideas to discussions so that we can make a difference for our families, communities and our country as a whole.”
He added: “We have a task to work to build a new National Assembly that is respected at home and recognised abroad both as an example for efficiency, productivity and transparency.
“This is the minimum we aspire. We are not going to allow anyone detract from this bare aspiration and we will be demanding that you stay on this course for the remainder of our term. With dedication and discipline, this new structure is not so far from our reach. Let us redouble our effort and I have no doubt that we will succeed,” he said.