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Good-bye Speech By The President Of The Senate, His Excellency (Dr.) Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Con, To The Senators Of The 8th Senate Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria – June 6, 2019.
1. Distinguished colleagues, as we come to the final plenary and the last few days of the eighth Senate, it is a victory in itself that we are seeing the journey to its momentous end. That I am here today, that you are here today, is a victory for democracy. It is a testament to what people can do when they come together for the greater good. This is also one of those occasions when the Supreme Creator reminds us, once again, that power does not reside in any one person.
2. Before I proceed, let us pause to honour the memory of colleagues with whom we started this journey but who sadly are not here with us today. We lost the late Senators Ali Wakili (Bauchi South), Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke (Osun West) and Bukar Mustapha (Katsina North) in the line of duty in this Senate. I ask that we observe a minute’s silence for the continuing repose of their souls [Minute’s Silence]. May the Almighty grant them eternal rest.
3. Distinguished colleagues, let me thank each and every one of you for your contributions towards making this the historic Senate that it is. When I think of the many trials and tribulations we have faced as an institution, and my own personal travails particularly at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, I am humbled, because none of our achievements would have been possible without the support and cooperation of the entire members of this chamber.
4. The invasion of the National Assembly by armed security operatives in August 2018 will live in infamy. This way down the line, however, I realise that the day of that invasion was the saddest – but in many ways it was also a good day for asserting the independence of the legislature and the triumph of democracy. It also turned out to be a showcase of the special relationship between this chamber and the House, as Honourable Members stood in unison with their Senate colleagues in defiance of the invaders. I thank the House of Representatives for the remarkable unity of the two chambers of the 8th National Assembly, for it was only in unity that we could withstand the storm.
5. The pieces of legislation we passed in the crucial areas and arenas affecting the daily lives of citizens – on the economy, in education, security, anti-corruption, health and so on – will remain a benchmark. Working together, we clocked many firsts in the 8th Senate, and we should rightly be proud of these, especially as they are imperishable legacies we are leaving for the people.
6. Our many firsts include the National Assembly Joint Public Hearing on the Budget, which we started with the 2016 Appropriation Bill. The engagement of the private sector and other stakeholders in crafting the economic legislative agenda was a watershed. For the first time, there were meetings and interactions with members of the public which were not previously the norm. One such interaction was the Public Senate, which gave youths the opportunity to spend a day with me as President of the Senate. I have pleasant memories of my reading to an audience of small children inside my office, where – in the true spirit of Children’s Day – the kids themselves were the dignitaries.
7. It was during this Senate that we patented the concept of the Roundtable. This was groundbreaking. We left the centre of power in Abuja to tackle pressing social issues at the very heart of the communities most affected. Notable among these were the Senate Roundtable on the Drug Use Crisis held in Kano in December 2017, and the one on Migration and Human Trafficking held in Benin City in February 2018. At both events, we not only dialogued for solutions with the relevant government agencies, international partners and community leaders – we heard from the victims themselves.
8. In Kano, we heard the harrowing story of Zeinab, a recovering drug addict. In Benin, we listened to the account of a young woman who was rebuilding her life after being trafficked to Russia for the sex trade; and we heard from Victory who had been being sold into slavery in Libya. We let these people know that their voices count. Indeed the voice of every Nigerian counts, and the 8th Senate lent its ear to them. We were alive to our responsibility to those whom we serve, and we engaged with them on their own terms.
9. It should be a matter of pride to all 109 senators and to our offspring that, in this chamber, we put humanity first. I will always be proud of the humaneness of the 8th Senate. Ours has been legislature with a human face, the personal touch, moved by the milk of human kindness. Whenever the situation demanded, we left the imposing edifice of the National Assembly to reach out to the person on the street. We showed that parliament belongs to the people, and that there should be no barrier between lawmakers and those they represent.