It is with mixed feelings but gratitude to almighty God who has given those of us present here today the privilege to witness the end of this journey that was started in 2019 (which I joined in December 2020), that I make the following remarks today at the valedictory session of the 9th senate. Mixed feelings for the reason that friendships and excellent working relationships forged over the last four years are coming to an end.
I am however comforted by the fact that we came here as the representatives of our people and faced difficult and challenging times but are all leaving with our heads held high because I make bold to say that we as a Senate, and the National Assembly as an institution, have succeeded in carrying out our responsibilities.
As this 9th Senate comes to an end today, I can say again without any form of equivocation that we have met and exceeded all expectations, both of ourselves, constituents, and the Nigerian public.
The pieces of legislation we passed in some critical sectors and areas affecting the daily lives of our people will remain a benchmark for future Assemblies.
We collaborated, worked harmoniously together and across party lines in spite of our differences to break many barriers and succeeded with many firsts.
These firsts include the restoration of the national annual budget to the January to December cycle which has made the nation’s fiscal plans more predictable and boosted the confidence of local and foreign investors in our economy.
There is yet another innovation that has been entrenched in the country’s financial system by the Ninth Assembly. This has to do with the practice of approving the Finance Bill side by side the Appropriation Bill.
The Finance Act provides the support base for an effective implementation of the Appropriation Act through some major reforms in fiscal policies of the government.
For twenty years, the National Assembly had attempted reforming the petroleum industry without much success. The 9th Assembly prioritized the Bill in its legislative agenda and worked closely with the Executive to secure passage and assent.
This historic achievement of the National Assembly means that Nigeria now has legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal frameworks for the petroleum industry that would promote optimal utilization of the country’s abundant oil and gas resources.
The CAMA 2020 Act, which represents a landmark achievement in the 9th Senate is also remarkable because it represents the first time in thirty years that this law has been updated.
The Act introduces measures to ensure efficiency in the registration and regulation of corporate vehicles, reduce the compliance burden of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), enhance transparency and stakeholders’ engagement in corporate vehicles and, overall, promote a more friendly business climate.
This 9th Senate also passed the Finance Act (2020) successfully amended 17 key aspects of the extant laws including seven existing tax laws. The FA 2020 which came into effect from 1 January 2021 compliments the 2021 Federal Government’s Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience.
Other high impact legislations which were passed into law include:
The Nigeria Startup Act, 2022 which provides the legal and institutional framework for the development and operation of startups in Nigeria, positioning the Nigerian startup ecosystem as the leading digital hub in Africa and fostering the development of technology-related talent in the country.
The Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Act 2019, gives effect to fiscal incentives given to Oil and Gas companies operating in the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin areas under production sharing contracts between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) or other companies holding oil prospecting licenses (OPL) or oil mining leases (OML) and various petroleum exploration and production companies.
Another significant area of achievement and accomplishment is the role of the Senate and indeed the National Assembly in the success of the last general elections. Much has been said about the performance of INEC and its success in conducting a free, fair and credible election, but people tend to forget the roles we played in that success, WE WERE THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THAT SUCCESS as we provided the framework for all that happened.
This was done through the new Electoral Act of 2022 which provided a legal framework that empowered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the mode of voting and transmission of results as well as to review declaration of election results made under duress.
It legalized the use of technology in elections; redefined over-voting and mandated INEC to take “reasonable steps” to provide support to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) during voting.
The new Act also alters the timelines for the conduct of elections and creates new time frames for political parties to fulfill various requirements and activities concerning nomination of candidates for elections.
The 9th Senate also successfully passed some Constitutional amendment bills which amongst others were targeted at:
• ensuring financial independence of State Houses of Assembly and State Judiciary;
• Ensuring that the President and Governors submit the names of persons nominated as ministers or commissioners within 60 days of taking the oath of office for confirmation by the Senate or State House of Assembly; and for related matters.
• Enabling states generate, transmit, and distribute electricity in areas covered by the national grid; and for related matters;
• Excluding the period of intervening events in the computation of time for determining pre-election matters petitions;
• Changing prisons to correctional service and re-designate correctional service in the concurrent list; and moving item “railway” from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list;
• Ensuring the deletion of the reference to the provisions of the Criminal Code, Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Act, Criminal Procedure Code or Evidence Act; and for related matters.
In the last 4 years, the National Assembly provided legislative support and framework for the realisation of the last administration’s unwavering commitment to improving security, transforming the nation’s economy and modernising infrastructure across the length and breadth of this country.
May I use this opportunity to extend to all our Senators who are not returning for the 10th Assembly, my best wishes in their personal endeavours. I hope that we will all continue to keep in touch.
I would also like to use this opportunity to urge the Senators-elect of the 10th National Assembly to be determined to be more effective in carrying out the constitutional responsibilities of oversight for the purposes of ensuring that public policies are implemented in accordance with the legislative intent of good governance and public accountability.
This will curb the persistent cases of poor administration, under performance, corruption, fiscal indiscipline, lack of accountability and arbitrariness in government MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) that happened in the life of the 9th Senate. The consequences of these are public disillusionment and less confidence in the National Assembly.
In addition, the 10th Assembly should also look closely at enacting high impact legislations that will address the challenges being faced by an over bloated public service, inconsistent and ineffective fiscal and monetary policies, the subsidy regime and appropriate palliatives, blockage of leakages in revenue, management of our huge deficit, as well as creating better enabling environment for youth empowerment, the growth of MSMEs and the utilization and deployment of digital skills for wealth creation.
Let me specially thank all distinguished Senators for the support granted me and the courtesies that have been extended to me and my constituency since my assumption of office in December, 2022. I am particularly grateful for the overwhelming support of my colleagues for my Copyright bill and my motion on the urgent need for the rehabilitation of the Ikorodu-Sagamu and Ikorodu-Itokin
Epe roads to further bridge the infrastructural gap and enhance economic growth in Nigeria.
While the Copyright bill which has been signed into law repealed the Copyright Act Cap. C28, LFN 2004 and enact the Copyright Act, 2021 to provide a holistic review of the policy and legal framework for the effective regulation, protection and administration of copyright in Nigeria in line with global best practices, the motion on the urgent need for the rehabilitation of the Ikorodu-Sagamu and Ikorodu-Itokin-Epe roads has led to the provision of further funding for both projects and significant work is ongoing on both roads. For these we are eternally grateful.
My profound gratitude also goes to my constituents who have entrusted me with this onerous responsibility and mandate. I likewise most sincerely thank the leaders of the All Progressives Congress and all the members of our party for their unflinching support.
I cannot conclude these remarks without specially appreciating my wife Feyisola and my kids who have borne the full brunt of my absence from home as a result of this call to national service.
My hope and prayer is that the achievements of the 9th Senate will set the tone for the work of the 10th Senate.
God bless you all and May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Senator Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru, FCA
(Lagos East Senatorial District)