It is my pleasure to once again welcome us all back from the working recess during which we at least found some time off the pressures of plenary.
I have no doubt that we are returning more reinforced with constituency duties arising from the expectations of our constituents as well as the needs which we have become ceased of through our observations, interactions and experiences. We should therefore be now guided more than ever before given that, the condition of our rural dwellers has witnessed only marginal improvements. Most of our people still can’t afford to live decently. They still can’t afford quality education for their children or good healthcare for their families. They still don’t have those basic needs of life – from clean water to adequate security and regular power supply that other nations take for granted. This means there remains a whole lot more to be done.
With the greatest sense of modesty, I wish once more to commend you all for the great work you have been doing and the attendant sacrifices. I urge that we belt up for greater sacrifices even when this may appear not to be appreciated in some quarters. I am confident that gradually the people of Nigeria will get to know the truth and it is only then that what we are doing will be sufficiently appreciated.
We have been able to come this far because of your sense of patriotism, mutual cooperation and cohesion. We must all continue to be attentive to the promptings of our conscience and the yearnings of our people. If we continue along this path, we are unlikely to go wrong. Make no mistake, I do not by this suggest that we are infallible, but if we have to make errors at all, they must be the ones that can pass the test of good conscience.
While it cannot be disputed that some strides have been made in the area of securing lives and property, it is also undeniable that the security situation still remains precarious. The truism that life has become cheap is sad commentary. The House of Representatives will continue to support fully, all measures by the executive to stem the tide of the rampant waste of lives and property. One challenge that has become evident is that legislative action may be required for long term solutions and we shall not shy away from this.
Recently, the polity has witnessed sustained heat generated by both interparty and intraparty squabbles. This is not all together unexpected given the approach of 2015. What is worrisome however is that these squabbles have further exposed the weaknesses of internal party democratic culture and interparty intolerance. These are viruses that we must resolve to dispense with in order to sanitize the political space.
In the face of these, I must not fail to commend Honourable members for their general mature comportment in reacting to the issues involved in the political face off. This mature comportment has saved the situation from further escalation.
I wish to caution that we exercise the highest restraint to the obvious distractions that the approaching 2015 is bound to bring so that we do not lose our focus in the diligent pursuit of our mandate. The proper timing for 2015 will surely come and at that time, we shall do the needful.
I must also not forget to express profound appreciation to Honourable Members for the historic role you played in the last constitutional amendment process. The pressures were daunting but we all stood on the side of the Nigerian people. By this we have proved beyond doubt that when we seek the people’s opinion through public hearings and consultation is for real. This notwithstanding there is still persistent opinion that certain areas of the constitution requiring amendment were not considered in the last exercise. I wish to assure all Nigerians that constitutional amendment is a continuous process and thus the House of Representatives will take up the issues which remain unaddressed for consideration through the legislative process. Members of the public should therefore feel free to continue to submit whatever proposals they desire considered in the next phase.
We also hope to amend the Electoral Act again to see how we can ensure that no one takes unfair advantage of the existing loopholes to rig elections. The fact is that until we can ensure that each vote counts in this country, the people will always be taken for granted by their leaders. We therefore want to produce a solid Electoral Act, comparable to any in the world and able to stand the text of time.
Budget implementation still remains a sore point of governance. The level of implementation of the 2013 capital appropriation is way below expectation given the early submission by the Executive and equally early passage by the Legislature. We have consistently advised that the procurement process be employed in a value added manner rather than the slavish adherence to and unproductive worship of procedures. It would appear that not much progress has been made in that regard.
So far by the information and statistics at our disposal there would appear to be no justification for this state of affairs. However in order to be comprehensively guided, all the Committees of the House will proceed on one week of oversight to Ministries, Department and Agencies at the end of which they shall submit their reports to the Committees on Legislative Budget and Research and that of Legislative Compliance, the two Committees will collate same and submit a joint report to plenary for consideration. This report will guide the House in the consideration of the 2014 budget proposals.
In an Interim Report to Leadership, the Ad hoc Committee on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has reported that public hearings on the bill have been successfully conducted in the six geo political zones and Abuja. The importance of this bill to the economy can not be overemphasized, accordingly the committee is hereby directed to expedite work and submit it’s report to the House soonest.
My dear colleagues, it is obvious from this rundown that there is lot of work to be done and this justifies my earlier appeal that we must remain focused and resist all distractions. I am confident that with your usual sense of commitment and patriotism we can accomplish the tasks before us.
Once again, I welcome us back from the recess and pray that the Almighty God will grant us wisdom, strength, good health and above all the courage to discharge our mandate diligently to the benefit of the good people of Nigeria.
God bless us all and God bless Nigeria.
Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is Speaker, Nigeria’s House of Representatives