Abuja — The National Assembly occasionally differs with the executive arm of government to protect its constitutional mandate and integrity and to ensure that democratic dividends get across the country.
Against the backdrop of selfish interests, the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, affirmed that it was only a potent parliament that can strengthen and protect our democracy to champion the needs of the masses.
The Senate President, in a statement yesterday, signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said that Nigerians should not mistaken him as an individual for the parliament or office of the Senate President because after four years, he would leave the office and somebody else would occupy it.
His words: "In four years after, I'm gone. Somebody else will be there, but the institution will always remain. If you have a weak parliament that is not effectively able to champion the needs of the people, you will have a weak democracy."
He regretted that on the premise of myopic interest at times, some people do not see why we must protect the mandate and integrity of these institutions.
'The difference between democracy and dictatorship is parliament. This is why I tell people that it is not about who the Senate President, the President, or the Chief Justice of Nigeria is, we must always work to strengthen our institutions."
Saraki underscored that the role of the legislature in a young democracy like Nigeria is often misconstrued which has made it necessary for the National Assembly to work towards impacting the lives of all Nigerians through its powers of lawmaking, oversight and advocacy.
He recalled that his focus since he assumed office as the presiding officer of the 8th Senate on June 9, 2015, has been to build an effective and efficient legislature that directly impacts the lives of all Nigerians.
As President of the Senate and first amongst equals, Saraki said, "what always motivates me is that drive to leave this institution better than we met it. I always like to leave a place stronger than I met it, and more capable to deliver on its constitutional role and functions than how it was before I got there.
"When we decided to have a presidential system of governance, it was based on the fact that there must be checks and balances. When these safeguards are in place, it strengthens our democracy and promotes the sort of collaboration across the board that helps us meet the needs of Nigerians," Saraki noted.
Nonetheless, Saraki also pledged that the 8th Senate would continue to remain committed to people-centered governance.
He said the Senate would continue to target laws and interventions that will have direct benefits to all Nigerians which he said has started to yield positive impacts as commercial banks now lend more money to MSMEs.
With the slight improvement in our economy, Saraki said it behoves on the executive and the legislature to work hard to ensure that it translates meaningfully and directly to the pockets of Nigerians and reduce the rising cost of living across the country.