'My Agenda As Senate President' - Saraki

A top contender for the Senate Presidency and Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Ecology, Senator Bukola Saraki yesterday outlined his agenda for the Eighth Senate which would be inaugurated on Tuesday, June 9. Saraki told newsmen in Abuja that if elected as the next Senate President, that he would ensure openness, transparency and accountability in the affairs of the Red Chamber.

According to the former governor of Kwara state, the senate under his leadership, would enact laws that would impact directly on the people as well encourage sponsorship of bills that would help Nigeria effectively tackle insecurity posed by Boko Haram and other source of insecurity in the country.

According to Saraki, : "One of the things I have observed and in looking at all our areas of responsibility, it's largely the fact that in our engagement with many Nigerians out there, they wonder, 'what do they do there?

What happens in the National Assembly?' "There's no connect between the National Assembly and the Nigerian people...I hope that the Eighth Chamber, under our leadership, would begin to bring a closer relationship, a better connection between the Senate and the Nigerian people.

"Some of the laws that we would pass are laws that would have direct impact on the lives of our people. Secondly, in the areas of representation, we must improve in being able to connect, and interact with the people we represent.

"There must be openness and transparency in even what we do at the Senate. In some of the things that we do, we must ensure that there's accountability... "Some of our responsibilities in the area of oversight, we really need to improve on that. No matter and whatever we say, some of the issues that we have seen, on things that have happened over the last few years, we cannot but take responsibility, that, there's poor oversight...and that's an area we must improve upon.

"We must improve on some of these things; particularly on Boko Haram, the issue of security, and we must have better oversight in those areas and as such, these are priority areas for us. "We must also, be able to make sacrifices, too, that are necessary. We must have a legislative agenda that also works closely with Mr. President's agenda."

Saraki also noted that the Eighth Senate will ensure capacity-building of senators as well as strengthening oversight duties of lawmakers, among others.

According to him, "There are issues as revenues. We must work on issues of budget. We have to look at the budget process and make sure that the budget process can have more impact on Nigerians. We must also improve the capacity of senators because I believe that there's need for lots of research, there's need for capacity-building and need for better information-gathering.

"The interaction, also, between the Legislature and Civil Society; and there are lots of people out there who can provide the needed technical support. I think there's need for us to do that.
"I also think there are some bills that are priority bills in doing that, I thinks one is in the area of delivery of Justice; I think it's a key area.

All the things we talk about, whether it's security, rule of law, anti-corruption and even on the commercial side, we need to look at that. "We need to look at electoral reform because that would strengthen our democracy. These are bills I believe are key. We need to prioritise these bills..."

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