By Henry Umoru & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA— outgoing Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, said the 8th National Assembly witnessed all-time persecution and political harassment in the history of legislature in Nigeria and stressed the need for the 9th NASS to be independent.
Dogara also expressed concern over the future of Nigeria due to the alarming rate of insecurity across the country.
The duo spoke separately at the valedictory sessions of the 8th Senate and House of Representatives.
He, however, stated that the 8th Assembly has been a huge success with unprecedented records set in legislative duties.
Dogara said: “The 8th House holds the record as the most persecuted and harassed parliament ever in Nigeria’s history. Some of our members bear the scars of reckless deployment of institutional prerogatives. We witnessed sieges and invasion by state operatives.
“Some members suffered witch-hunts, house arrests and false accusations. We are also witnesses to barrage of uncharitable criticisms and assessments bandied on daily basis in the media by hired mercenaries who masquerade as analysts.
“Most of these analysts are ignorant of the fact that the parliament was not designed to be an alter of praise for the executive but a co-equal branch to serve as a check on executive power.”
Nigeria losing war against insecurity – Dogara
On the state of insecurity in the country, he feared that the country was losing the battle.
“It appears we are losing the fight against violence and as if that is not bad enough, the situation is so dire that known statesmen are becoming petrified and speaking up in ways that may further rend our national fault lines. It is like we refused to hear the whispers and now the screams are threatening our ear drums.
“This is a national problem that we can only solve if we pull ourselves together and not apart; regardless of political persuasions or creed. The challenge is to get the leadership that throws politics and partisanship out of the window. Leadership that reins in all our best human and material resources to confront these menacing challenges.
“Yet, instead of uniting to confront this very danger, all one hears are sermons of divisiveness and permutations for 2023 elections.”
Dogara charged members-elect of the 9th National Assembly to be determined to raise the bar of the records of the 8th National Assembly, especially on the issue of flawed elections.
8th House passed 1643 bills, 1588 motions, 1192 petitions
Also speaking, Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Edwards Pwajok informed members that the House considered 1,643 bills, 1,588 motions, and attended to 1,192 petitions among others.
N’Abba, Etteh, Ihedioha, others speak
Speaking at the valedictory session, former speakers of the House commended the 8th Assembly and charged the incoming 9th Assembly to build on the legacies left behind by their predecessors.
Those who spoke include Alhaji Ghali Nabba, Patricia Etteh, and Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State.
Some other dignitaries who attended the session were Governor Sierrke Dickson of Bayelsa State and former speakers before the return of democratic rule in 1999.
Lawan or Ndume is next Senate president —Saraki
In the Senate, Saraki said with the unfolding scenario, the position of Senate President in the 9th Senate would be occupied by the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North) or former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South).
Speaking in Abuja during his valedictory speech to the senators to end the 8th Senate, which started on June 9, 2015, Saraki stressed the need for a better working relationship between the executive and the legislature in the 9th Senate, adding that the executive should note that the legislature has the statutory power to work on the budget proposal and not to see the Legislature as rubber stamp, adding that there must be principle of separation of powers.
Saraki, who stressed the need for democratic institutions to be strengthened, said that the 9th Senate should improve on the 8th Senate, adding that it is only when our institutions are strong that democracy can be strong.
Saraki said: “It is also important that I make some comments about Legislature-Executive Relations. My own take is that if the Executive sees the National Assembly’s work on the budget as interference despite the provision of the constitution, then there will continue to be problems between both arms of government. If the presidency refuses to have engagements and consultations with the leadership of the National Assembly before the President submits the budget to the legislature, then there will continue to be frictions.”