By Cecilia John
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has said that the Senate would commence review of the 2017 Budget implementation by first week of October.
He made this known in his speech at the resumption of plenary from the 2017 annual recess of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Saraki said the move was necessary to know how the budget had affected the lives of Nigerians in terms of infrastructure development and other areas of life.
According to him, the senate will expect the Ministers of Finance and Budget Planning to brief it on the level of implementation of the budget.
“Nigerians want to see a more significant improvement in the level of implementation of the budget this financial year, ‘’he said.
He called on standing committees of the Senate to begin the process of putting together their oversight plans for a close and proper review of the performance of the 2017 Budget.
“ In the same token, we must remind ourselves of the initiative we started and for which we have significant stride, that is, the Made-in-Nigeria initiative.
“Distinguished colleagues, it is time to enter the next stage of this initiative; the oversight of implementation, to ensure that the policy yields expected gains.
“I will like, therefore, to see the committees demonstrate readiness to engage government to ensure that at least, a significant portion of our annual budget is fully dedicated to local procurement.
“All committees of the Senate must be involved in this and find better channels to engage our people and enable feed backs.’’
The president of the senate said for such efforts to be successful, there was a need for peace and political stability.
He urged his colleagues and all Nigerians to continue to fight to keep Nigeria united and prosperous.
Saraki said as a firm believer that economic security was one of best securities to offer Nigerians; its inadequacy often caused disaffection of the people toward government.
According to him, with less hunger and with more gainfully engaged people, insecurity will be significantly reduced and the economy revamped.
“Distinguished colleagues, a house divided against itself will not stand. More than ever before, we need to stand for the unity and indivisibility of our country.
“We must condemn in the strongest possible terms, all forms of violence as a form of engagement.
“The Constitution and laws have laid down tools and procedures for us to push through our interest as all democratic nations do.
“Our nation is blessed with exceptionally talented and beautiful people, we are collectively strong and indomitable and it is time for all of us to stand up for our nation.
“Our dream of a virile nation must keep us motivated and this dream is already at the horizon.
“As leaders closest to our people, we must rededicate ourselves to the values we have institutionalised in this chamber.
“In this chamber, we are first and foremost, Nigerians. Yes, we are Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Fulanis. Yes, we are Muslims, Christians and traditional worshipers.’’
Saraki further urged his colleagues to continue to ensure the unity of the country in their conversations and dealings.
He also advised them to be their brother’s keepers, irrespective of region, stressing that many youths and families from the South and North needed lifting.
On Constitution review, Saraki said as a continuous process, the National Assembly would meet with speakers of the various state Houses of Assembly with a view to moving forward with the process.
He said the National Assembly would revisit and consider areas of the Constitution it believed would further strengthen the federation and ensure a more prosperous Nigeria.
On efforts to pass legislations that will impact positively on the lives of Nigerians, Saraki said “in the last two sessions of our term, we devoted enormous time, working hard on critical legislations.”
The Senate president expressed delight that ‘’some of these bills which have since become law have started yielding expected gains.
“This is especially so with the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Act with increased lending to private sector. We expect more to come.
“Our ultimate aim is inclusive growth, full employment for our people and frameworks that enable our young people to run viable startups.
“In this period, I expect us to conclude work on the National Transport Commission Bill, the National Road Funds Bill, the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill and Host Community Bill which are pending.
“ It is my hope that we conclude work quickly on the Bank Lending Rate Reduction Initiative and the National Payment Systems Bill.’’
On fight against corruption, he said aside from bills that had been passed, it was important for lawmakers to sharpen their oversight tools to ensure that government remained accountable.
He called on them to be above board in the discharge of their duties.
According to him, the senate has successfully exposed numerous cases of corruption in various agencies and as a result saved government enormous amount of public resources.
He said it was such contributions that Nigerians expected of the lawmakers and urged them to continue in that stride.
“We must not make the mistake of resting on our oars. I say this to encourage you to keep up with the good works of exposing corruption as you have been doing so far.
“For instance, Sen. Isah Misau has the courage to expose deep rooted institutional corruption.
“You will be attacked, blackmailed and insulted, but unlike any former Senate before this, we will not bow or be intimidated.
“Our focus on interventions critical to our national development will continue in this session.
“We will be interacting with stakeholders with the aim of repositioning our education sector and the health sector, especially with the health insurance subsector as key primers of the economy.
“The major direction will be to expand access to basic education and health, incentivise investment in these critical sectors and find lasting solutions to issues of strikes and interruption in these sectors.’’
Saraki said the revolutionary growth of innovative works and remarkable fits by Nigerians, both in the entertainment industry and software development cross the globe, was commendable.
He called for reformation of the intellectual property regime, to enable Nigerians utilise their ability to fully harness and reap the fruits of their effort.
According to Saraki, the move will ensure that people’s intellectual property meet present day digital realities and opportunities.
He assured that the National Assembly would continue to contribute its quota to better the lot of the people by initiating and paying close attention to the country’s Intellectual Property (IP) rights frameworks.
Saraki commiserated with Nigerians affected by the recent floods in some states of the country.
He congratulated the D’Tigress for winning the African Basket Ball Championship, as well as the Super Eagles, on their journey to the world cup qualifiers.
The president of the Senate, who acknowledged the return of President Muhammadu Buhari from his medical vacation in London, prayed God to continue to grant him full recovery.(NAN)