By Ibidapo Balogun
Leading contender for the position of Senate President in the 8th Senate and former governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki, on Monday unveiled his agenda if elected.
Speaking with reporters in Abuja, Saraki said he would ensure openness, transparency and accountability in running the affairs of the Senate if elected.
Saraki’s major opponent is Senator Ahmed Lawan from Yobe who has more ranking than Saraki having done two terms in the House of Representatives and has just been elected for a third term in the Senate.
Saraki is currently the Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology.
“One of the things I have observed in our engagement with many Nigerians out there, they wonder, ‘what do they do there? What happens in the National Assembly?
“There’s no connection between the National Assembly and the Nigerian people. I hope that the Eighth Chamber, under our leadership, would begin to bring a closer relationship, a better connection between the Senate and the Nigerian people,” Saraki said.
“Some of the laws that we would pass are laws that would have direct impact on the lives of our people. Secondly, in the areas of representation, we must improve in being able to connect, and interact with the people we represent.
“I also think there are some bills that are priority bills. In doing that, I think, one, in the area of delivery of Justice; I think it’s a key area. All the things we talk about, whether its security, rule of law, anti-corruption and even on the commercial side, we need to look at that.
“We need to look at electoral reform because that would strengthen our democracy. These are bills I believe are key. We need to priorities these bills.
“Some of our responsibilities in the area of oversight, we really need to improve on that. No matter and whatever we say, some of the issues that we have seen, on things that have happened over the last few years, we cannot but take responsibility, that there’s poor oversight, and that’s an area we must improve upon,” he said.
He promised to improve the Senate’s capacity to deliver on its mandate by ensuring that capacity building is given its pride of place in the National Assembly.
He said there was the need to do more to ensure that the greater percentage of Nigerian benefit from our democratic process through an improved budgetary system which will take into account areas of leakages as well as waste, with a view to plugging them.
He also observed that there is the need for greater interaction between the Legislature and Civil Society because there is a lot of human resource which will be mutually beneficial that were yet to be fully tapped into for the benefit of Nigerians.
Saraki appealed to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress to allow lawmakers elect their own leaders, a move he said would ensure stability in the Legislature.
The APC senators are divided down the line over the election. APC Senators in Saraki’s flank claim to be 35 while those in Lawan said they were up to 40.
But the total APC Senators in the 8th Senate are 60 while the Peoples Democratic Party Senators are 49.
The PDP senators analysts say may hold the ace in determining who becomes Senate President.