Lawan names Orji Kalu, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Abdullahi, Boroffice, others as principal officers

EIGHT principal officers were yesterday named by Senate President Ahmed Lawan. Each of the two major parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – has four principal officers.

For the APC, Senator Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi North) is Majority Leader Ondo North Senator Ajayi Borofice is his deputy.

Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North) was announced as Chief Whip and Senator Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North) his deputy.

The PDP officers announced by Lawan are senators Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South) as the Minority Leader; Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba South) his deputy; Phillip Aduda (FCT) Minority Whip and Sahabi Yau (Zamfara) Deputy Minority Whip.

Announcing the appointments, Lawan, said the body of principal officers will form the selection committee, which will pick heads of standing committees.

The Senate president urged his colleagues to roll up their sleeves for the daunting tasks ahead, which he said, must begin in earnest.

In the welcome address which he read at plenary, Lawan listed poverty, insecurity and corruption among the ills plaguing the nation and which the lawmakers must tackle.

He said: “Distinguished colleagues, it should worry us in this chamber that majority of our people still grapple with extreme poverty. But while how to tackle the growing inequality should be part of our legislative agenda, the security challenge posed by insurgents, kidnappers, armed robbers and other criminal cartels from North to South, East to West will require our collective efforts.

“As lawmakers, one of the powerful tools we have for our work is the power of oversight, which is meant to enhance transparency and accountability.

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“In exercising these powers, we will not only review, monitor and supervise projects being implemented by the executive, we will critically examine them vis-à-vis the cost and whether they align with our national aspirations.

“And we will follow the progress of these projects right from conception to when they are finally delivered to the people. But we will do so with every sense of responsibility.”

Bemoaning dwindling national resources amid rising population, the Senate president said the expectation of the people had remained huge, stressing that the legislature must work together with the executive to bridge the gap.

Lawan went on: “Therefore, in a season when majority of Nigerians are more concerned with outcomes that reflect their concerns, the best way to serve that interest is through cooperation and collaboration.

“So, in exercising our mandate as lawmakers, we must at all times, and in all circumstances, be guided by how our action will positively impact the greater majority of our people.

“I have in recent weeks had discussions with President Muhammadu Buhari on the challenges facing the country and how we can leverage our position as lawmakers to help him deliver on his mandate.

“I will be doing more of that in the coming weeks and months. If we must build an economy that lifts majority of our people out of poverty, there is need for a serious collaboration between the executive and the legislature.

“I intend to work closely with President Buhari in the interest of Nigeria without compromising the integrity of the National Assembly as an independent arm of government with oversight powers.”

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Cautioning against adversarial relationship between the legislature and the executive, Lawan said the system of checks and balances is meant to safeguard the values of justice and the rule of law and deliver public good.

Admitting that the problems confronting the country are quite enormous, Lawan said “they are not insurmountable if all arms of government can work together as members of the same government, with different roles”.

This, according to him, will help to collectively achieve goals and to better the lot of Nigerians.

He lamented the high number of out-of-school children across the country, saying that every child, regardless of where he lives or what his circumstances may be, has the right to quality education.

Lawan said: “Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, over 10 million of the country’s children aged 5 – 14 years are out of school. This is a challenge for us in the next four years.”

The Senate president advised the senators on constructive debates and respect for one another, especially within the hallowed chambers while pledging to lead in a bipartisan and unifying manner.

He reminded them of the need to consolidate on the oil sector reforms started by the last Senate, stressing that the legislature must help the executive to reinvigorate the war against corruption with legislations.

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