BEING TEXT OF REMARKS BY RT HON. AMINU WAZIRI TAMBUWAL CFR, SPEAKER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, ON THE OCCASION OF THE VALEDICTORY SESSION OF THE SEVENTH ASSEMBLY, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CHAMBERS, WEDNESDAY 27TH MAY 2015.
It is with the highest sense of humility and extreme nostalgic feelings that I join you all in making my terminal remarks on the floor of this Hallowed Green Chambers as Hon Member and Speaker of the Seventh Assembly. Before I proceed, dear colleagues, shall we rise to observe a minute silence in remembrance of our fallen colleague Hon. Raphael Nomiye.
He gave a full measure of devotion to the democratic process. May his soul rest in peace. May I also take this opportunity to express my solidarity with all the children of Nigeria as they celebrate their day today. They certainly represent our hope for tomorrow.
2. Valedictory Session in this Chambers has never been a day of hilarious laughters and broad smiles and even when these are attempted, they manifest in the garb of artificiality. Valedictory session has always been a day of emotions, indeed extreme emotions often manifesting in tears and sobs.
3. Tears are shed in lamentation of the sudden loss of the family atmosphere which we have come to be accustomed with in the course of the four year tenure; tears are shed because of the intruding centripetally to friendship; tears are shed for the loss of brilliant legislators who would not be returning when the next Assembly is inaugurated; tears are shed for the still birth of important Bills, Motion and Tasks but above all tears are shed on account of the awful feeling of yet bequeathing an institution largely misunderstood and marginally appreciated by the polity.
4. In addition to all these however my dear colleagues today we also shed tears of joy in acknowledgment of the Triumph of the POWER OF UNITY OF PURPOSE, Almighty God’s greatest gift to us and which is, perhaps, the greatest legacy this Seventh Assembly ( House of Representatives ) bestows.
5. On our Inauguration Day in 2011, my dear colleagues, you insisted that you had a statement to make, a statement to enrich democracy and to take the independence of the legislature to another level. Through the power of the unity of purpose you boldly made that statement by electing leaders of your choice and ensuring that their tenure would not be determined only by you to the exclusion of all external forces. By this, the power of unity of purpose had broken the walls of clannishness and retrogressive partisanship.
6. It was our deliberate agenda to afford timeous response to critical matters of urgent national importance whenever and wherever they arose. In this regard you eminently proved your commitment to the national interest because whenever such situation arose it did matter if we were on recess neither did it matter whether it was a non- sitting day, a Friday or Sunday or a public holiday , you rose to such occasion with unity of purpose to defend and preserve the national interest. The tears of today represent our befitting mutual commendation.
7. It is a fundamental prescription of the Constitution of Nigeria that the participation of the people in their government be promoted and ensured. Over the years the culture has been that of dishing out governance from the metropolis absolutely. When we opted to expand the horizons of the concept of public hearing to enhance participation by taking the proposed constitutional amendment Bill to the 360 constituencies and later the Petroleum Industry Bill to the Six Geopolitical Zones, many doubted our capacity or intensions but unity of purpose successfully drove the idea and a lasting legacy has resulted from those and other similar endeavours.
8. Other than the allegations against Three Honourable Members, two of which have already been judicially resolved in the Members favour the Seventh House Of Representatives has successfully ran the full course scandal free. Even in these two isolated cases, the House stood firmly on the path of public probity. The House, no doubt, still has the Herculean task of getting the general public to begin to appreciate the distinction between the Legislature corporate and individual Legislators.
9. The Seventh Assembly, House of Representatives, can be generally assessed as substantially stable. There were no cases of internally generated crisis while all machinations of externally induced crises were stoutly resisted by Members. It is evidence of the power of unity of purpose that with the gale of defections and counter defections and the multiplicity of litigations, the House still maintained her focus and came out stronger than ever.
10. Again, the Seventh House enjoyed a very robust relationship of mutual respect and sense of common purpose with the Senate throughout this four year period. I take this opportunity to most highly commend the President of the Senate, His Excellency Distinguished Senator David Alechenu Bornaventure Mark for this show of leadership. I equally commend all Distinguished Senators of the Seventh Senate for the spirit of common purpose exhibited all through the years.
11. A legislature that seeks to fulfil its duty and obligation to the electorate whom they represent must exercise it’s independence and this comes at a price. A legislature truly playing it’s checks and balances role would normally experience friction with the other arms of government and other interest groups who have broken the law or desire to break the law in the course of time. We had more than a fair share of this friction and torment but overcame because the naughty walls of partisanship and selfish pecuniary considerations could not withstand the power of unity of purpose.
12. I must say that the frosty relationship between the Executive and Seventh House was an unnecessary distraction and a source of embarrassment to the nation. It is unwarranted that a ruling party with clear majority boxed itself into that situation. If the executive fails to recognize the independence of the legislature and expects that it is it’s rubber stamp then frosty relation is bound to follow. I would strongly urge the incoming executive arm and indeed the ruling All Progressives Congress ( APC ) to avert this unwholesome situation.
13. Today we are faced with the potential of incalculable waste of public resources through the conspiracy of the Constitutional amendment impasse. This document is a product of the highest and most intimate consultations with Nigerians, indeed it is the Bill of the Nigerian people. All parties involved have a duty to allow or disallow this looming monumental waste of public funds and public opinion. For our part we owe Nigerians a statement once again and I am confident that with the slimmest opportunity this House will make that statement.
14. We shed tears of sadness because we did not rise swiftly to defeat the forces that stood ever so strongly against the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) We lament that our Electronic Voting System project could not be brought to fruition. I am confident however that with the amendment of the relevant House Rules, the successor Assembly would move swiftly to conclude the half done issues.
15. My special gratitude to all those who have been part of this journey. I thank Deputy Speaker, other Principal Officers, Committee Chairmen, Vice Chairmen, all honourable members along with members of their families, indeed I must thank the former Presiding Officers and former members of this House who have always been there for us. I also commend the Clerk to the National Assembly, the Clerk of the House and his Deputy and all staff of the National Assembly, the Media, Development Partners especially the British Department for International Development (DFID) and UNDP, Civil Society Organizations, our political aides and domestic staff for their personal and collective contributions to the success of the 7th House. I wish you all best of luck in your future endeavours.
16. Honourable colleagues, we have come to the end of an important national assignment and we go with a sense of substantial accomplishment and much gratitude to Nigerians whose unwavering support saw us through most of our tough decision times. We have weathered many storms individually and collectively. We may not have reached all our goals but it was surely not for want of trying.
17. In many respects, we have seen the consolidation of the legislature and the growth of our democracy. The 2015 general elections will go down in history as one of our finest moments as a people. The conduct of the elections, the commitment of Nigerians to a peaceful electoral process, the maturity of our politicians as well as the professionalism of our security forces and independent election body have all been praised locally and internationally. Increased transparency and credibility surrounding the voting process have bolstered the confidence of Nigerians in the electoral system. We must build on these gains in the coming years.
18. For my part, and on behalf of my entire family, I owe a debt of gratitude to you my dear colleagues for the unwavering confidence and total support both in season and out of season. To all Nigerians I am short of words because you gave me opportunity and crowned it with goodwill and support. I pray the Almighty God to bountifully reward your labour of love.
19. In rendering service to millions of people I admit that I am human and only God is infallible so I may have caused offense to some. Such certainly was neither deliberate nor intentional, I therefore ask for forgiveness for any such offense. I assure you that I will forever Cherish the tremendous goodwill extended to me these past four years and indeed to the institution of the House of Representatives.
20. God bless you all and may God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.