By By Henry Umoru & Boluwaji Obahopo
LOKOJA—Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, said yesterday that if the National Assembly, NASS, is to play its role as an agent of development with the mandate to sustain democracy, it must cleanse its house, adding that the legislature has not met the expectations of Nigerians and should step up its legislative performance.
He said: “It is time to show that the National Assembly is ready to play its role as an agent of development and sustenance of democracy. We cannot play that role without first cleansing our house. It is time for us to accept that change has come, but not only by words but action.”
Saraki, who spoke at a five-day retreat for National Assembly top management personnel in Lokoja, Kogi State, also tasked the top management of the National Assembly on the need for self-cleansing to enable the legislative arm perform its duties efficiently.
He noted that Nigeria was at a critical time when all organs of government, particularly the National Assembly, must perform their roles to engender a lasting solution to the challenges facing it.
He said as the National Assembly sought for more funds, it must show transparency on how its budget was being spent, and remained overboard without being tainted with corruption.
He also promised the staff that merit would be a yardstick for decision taken in the National Assembly, stressing that career progression would be based on merit.
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, in his keynote address, noted that the National Assembly was critical to the change mantra of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He, however, urged the National Assembly to come up with legislative bills that would see to the fast- tracking of mineral resources, which is in high abundance in the state.
He urged the legislators to treat issues concerning the state with urgency to fast track development.
Clerk of the National Assembly, Muhammed Sanni-Omolori, said inadequate funding had been a major problem facing the National Assembly, adding that dialogue between the executive and the legislature was long overdue to resolve many of the issues, particularly budgeting.