Bukola Saraki
speaks about Nigeria, lawmaking, job creation, plans for 2019

special project

It has been a tough year for the Senate president Bukola Saraki. In an exclusive interview with Chinenye Ugonna of NAIJ.com the senator comments on his alleged ambition for the 2019 presidential race, says that Nigeria should improve the laws and law enforcement to ensure they reflect present world reality.
He also shares explicitly his thoughts on the achievements of the country, challenges and further improvements to move the nation forward and many more.

Due to the CCT trial, the former governor of Kwara state had no chance to give more fresh comments. Therefore, our editorial team decided to do this very NAIJ.com @4 special in the form of a flashback. The thoughts below were originally expressed in the end of September 2015.

About Nigeria's development

In 55 years a lot of developments have taken place in our country. This is a country that at the time of independence had only two universities, one television station and just about a thousand telephone lines.

Today we have about 100 universities, federal, state and privately owned. There should be about 40 television stations now. Over 60 million telephone lines now exist in the country, and, in 2014, Nigeria was named the largest economy in Africa.

Many of her citizens have led international organisations and the population has grown from just about 60 million to over 170 million, making it the most populated country in Africa.

We have some of the best and most solid financial institutions in Africa. Similarly, one of the greatest industrialists from Africa, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, is a Nigerian. He is also, according to Forbes rating, the richest African.
In addition to that, we have survived a civil war and experienced years of military rule. Today the country is a democratic nation. We have pulled back each time we moved to the edge of the precipice.

For all these, I believe, we have experienced a lot of developments. However, with the available resources, both human and material, we could have been a world giant today. We got independence about the same time with Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. These Asian Tiger nations have taken the world by storm and are now leading global financial and investment capitals.

They have excelled in manufacturing, service and financial sectors. Yet, they are not as endowed in terms of natural and human resources as we are. Let me say that we have realized our problems and we are attending to them.

What this means is that the world should watch out for Nigeria, we are coming and we will still lead the world. I am sure, with sustained democracy and the envisaged pace of development, we will soon get there.
On what to impove first of all

I think we should improve on our laws and ensure that they reflect present world reality. Then law enforcement should be improved upon. Our electoral process should be reformed and we should have development plans that are enacted as laws, made compulsory for subsequent governments to implement.

Then, we must abhor indiscipline, acts of impunity and disrespect for law and due process. We need to redefine our national values and ensure they are ingrained in all of us.

About future actions of the National Assembly

The National Assembly is partnering with different stakeholders to reform and review our laws, enact new laws and create a legal atmosphere that will assure all investors and the general populace that their interest are protected in case of any dispute.

We also want to concentrate on exercising our oversight powers very often, efficiently and effectively. This will keep all MDAs on their toes and thereby improve on public service as well as service delivery to our people. As you well know, we were elected to deliver service and improved standard of living of the people.

About differences the 8th Senate has made so far

The first difference is to let everybody know that it won't be business as usual. Legislative businesses will be carried out with serious engagement with the relevant stakeholders. After the intense consultations that we have had, we are now developing a legislative agenda which will be our compass for the next four years. The proposed agenda will soon be subjected to intense debate on the floor of the Senate.

Again, for the first time, we have set up a finance committee to look at our finances and see how they can produce a process and procedure for creating transparent process around our finances. Our constituents and other interested parties should be able to access information on our finances. Their report will also lead to other issues concerning our budget.
Remember, this Senate is the first to set up a committee with such an assignment or brief. Same way we were the first to send fact-finding delegations to the north-east zone, where the Boko Haram insurgency is ravaging our people. Since then, I have used all fora, national or international to canvass help, support and attention for the rehabilitation, rebuilding and restoration of the people and infrastructure of the north-east people.

I was also the first Senate president to do an assessment tour of the huge National Assembly complex since 1992 with a view to seeing areas that require improvements and also to show camaraderie with members of staff and get to see them in their working environment.

We have definitely demonstrated that we want to work and we are ready to set targets for all committees to meet. Whichever committee fail to meet the target will necessitate a review of its membership. It is a serious legislative session in the 8th Senate.
About job creation in Nigeria

It is one of the focus areas for the present administration and our political party, the APC, campaigned with during the last elections. Therefore, for us in the Senate, we need to do all at our disposal to provide appropriate legislations that will help the economy to grow, generate employment opportunities, make foreign direct investors to prefer our country to others.

That is why we are bent on reviewing all laws that relate to creating investments and ensuring that trade disputes are handled in line with world best practices. We want investors to look at our laws and say yes we are confident that our money is safe here.

You know, there are global conglomerates that are relocating from trouble areas in the Middle East and are looking towards Africa. We will draw them to Nigeria. We will initiate investor friendly legislations.

About rumoured 2019 presidential ambition

I have said it on record that the talk of 2019 now when we are yet to deliver on the mandate we received just last May is stupid and ungodly. My focus and attention is on how to ensure that the 8th Senate under my leadership work with our colleagues in the House of Representatives to ensure that we partner with the executive arm to solve the problems of insecurity, unemployment, economic crisis and collapse of national infrastructure.

About top achievements of Nigeria in 55 years

Well, we have remained a united nation. We remain a force to be reckoned with in the international community. Over the years, our country has witnessed tremendous development in terms of her economy, infrastructure, military, politics, social services and other development indices through which you can measure achievements.

The only problem now is that we could have done better, judging by our natural and human resources.

This is a great country by all standards and we cannot be talking of just potentials every time. We need to talk of what we have done with the potentials.

special project