Ahmad Lawan, president of the senate, on Tuesday tasked lawmakers in the country on the need for them to strengthen the nation’s legislative processes and procedures for the purposes of improving the transparency of the public procurement and contract award system in the country.
Lawan, who gave the charge on the resumption of legislators after a two-month break, said that such a fiscal oversight approach was required to avert losses usually associated with flawed contract awards and the far-reaching implications for the nation’s economy.
This is even as he restated an earlier resolve of the Senate to pass the 2020 budget before the end of 2019 financial year to avoid delays in fiscal and governance processes.
Citing the recent sordid experience of the case of the $9.6 billion judgment debt against Nigeria to support his views, the lawmaker pointed out that the case was “another reminder on why we should strengthen our processes and procedures so that questionable firms would not take advantage of us.”
In his welcome address, Lawan told his colleagues in the upper chamber that the resumption was a time for action as well as time “to proceed on key issues of governance. Our committees shall be our engine rooms. We will do all that is possible to improve their operational efficiency.
While urging the senators to remain united with a view to succeeding despite their political differences, the Senate President recalled that the lawmakers had been able to show, through our achievements so far, that the country now has a cohesive Senate, ready to work in the interest of the people, despite the lawmakers’ political differences.
He expatiated: “It is important we remain united so that we succeed. Our political parties may be different but we are one Senate – the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We should not be pulled apart in matters of governance for the sake of our people. The challenges of unemployment, insecurity, illiteracy and inter-ethnic conflict are not partisan challenges,” Lawan said.
According to him, the legislators must be ready to confronting the nation’s challenges through diligent law making, effective representation and thorough oversight of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.
He decried the increasing spate of kidnapping, ethnic conflicts, rural and highway banditry, herdsmen and farmers’ conflict and cattle rustling in the land, adding that all these indicate that it is time to probably review the nation’s security architecture.
Lawan, who recalled that the last Senate set up an Ad-Hoc Committee to review the security arrangement of the country, promised that the 9th Senate would revisit the report of the committee in addition to making new efforts at finding solutions to the security challenges in the country.
In addition, the Senate President also canvassed the need for urgent reform in the educational sector, particularly the implementation of the Universal Basic Education law passed by the National Assembly, to guarantee the rights of children to basic education.
He promised also that the Senate would redouble its efforts on the much awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) with a view to enacting into law and tackle the problems of youth unemployment, insecurity and agriculture through its implementation.
The Senate President said the recent Xenophobic attack in South Africa was a sad development and called for a review and strengthening of the nation’s citizen diplomacy.