Abuja — The Senate resumed plenary, yesterday, after its break, with a warning to politicians not to overheat the polity ahead of 2015. It warned Nigerians not to discuss the balkanisation of the country at all.
In his address at the resumed session, Senate President, David Mark, said a mechanism had been put in place to ensure that the Senate carried out its oversight functions to ensure that the 2013 budget was fully implemented.
This came as President Goodluck Jonathan urged the Executive and the Legislature to rise up to the collective challenge of ensuring full implementation of the 2013 budget.
Mark, however, reminded his colleagues that having raised the bar through their stellar performance in 2012, they would be judged by the very high standards they had set for themselves.
He said the expectations of Nigerians on the Senate would be realised within the framework of existing laws, promising that the task of legislative oversight would be discharged with firmness, diligence, transparency, courage and commitment.
Emodi hails NASS over budget 2013
However, addressing reporters in Abuja, yesterday, Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Joy Emodi, who praised the legislature for its speedy passage of this year's budget, described the action as a significant landmark in the nation's democracy in the last 13 years.
She said: "The short delay in the time between the actual passage and the processes that will lead to the eventual signing of 2013 national budget into law is due to some other transmission processes and does not in any way detract from the significance of this landmark achievement since 1999."
Task before Senate --Mark
Speaking earlier, Senator Mark said: "The task of the Senate in 2013 would be to work to restore confidence in the ability of the government to rise to the challenges elicited by the public expectations. We will seek to bring succour to our nation and re-energise our people's faith in one indivisible nation and in constitutional democracy. We will do this by pursuing a legislative agenda that not only promotes the common good, but also responsive to the national mood and expectations.
"Some of these expectations can be met within the framework of existing laws, provided that the legislative task of oversight is discharged with firmness, diligence, transparency, courage and commitment. Those expectations requiring constitution amendment will definitely be accommodated and addressed in the ongoing efforts to further amend the 1999 Constitution.
Balkanisation of the country
"What we should never countenance is any talk about the balkanisation of our country. We have become a melting pot, welded by a common history, a common destiny, and a common heritage. The result is that the fault lines, if any, have become blurred!
"It is gratifying to note that our people have continued to repose their faith in democracy. That faith can only be repaid through sustained good governance. This is why all of us, without exception, must resist the temptation to sacrifice governance on the altar of politics as the 2015 elections approach. Not to do so is to inordinately pander to the mere selfish craving for career advancement.
Mark hails security agencies
"Today, the horizon is not as bleak as it was three months ago. The agents of anarchy and sectarian strife have been kept largely in check by the huge sacrifices of our security forces.
"I salute the commitment, the sacrifice and the bravery of our men and women in the security services, who on our account, place themselves daily in harm's way to confront the formidable perils tearing at the sinews of our corporate existence.
"Continued vigilance and even greater sacrifice are still needed for terror and insecurity to be totally routed. Internal security operations can certainly benefit from our imaginative legislative efforts aimed at deterring potential perpetrators of such crimes and making the task of the security forces less hazardous.
...wants capital punishment for terrorists
"The Senate will continue to work towards these twin objectives. Not only will we endeavour to enhance the capability of the security agencies to detect and nip these pernicious crimes in the bud, we will also work to ensure that the penalties for their commission are made even more stringent. In this connection, I strongly reiterate my earlier calls for capital punishment for this category of offences.
Vows to collaborate with the Executive
"We will continue to collaborate with the Executive, within the context of the principle of separation of powers, to ensure that our nation emerges stronger and more dynamic. Such collaboration in no way diminishes the constitutional status of the National Assembly as the driving force of this democracy. It rather enriches it, for the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, are partners, all working towards good governance.
"Just before our last recess, we did observe certain incidents smacking of disrespect and contumacy towards the Senate, and particularly of its power to investigate some MDAs. For now, let me make this very clear: The power to launch investigations into agencies of government is expressly given to parliament by Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended), as part of parliament's oversight functions. The Senate will not brook any act contemptuous of it, nor will it abnegate a responsibility so expressly conferred."