Nigeria “Assailed By Political Tremors” ’Cos of 2015,Says Mark ,As Senate Resumes



senate_president__david_mark 600President of Nigeria’s Senate,David Mark has expressed his “displeasure over political jobbers, sycophants, and hustlers” that “ have prematurely seized the political space” ahead of 2015 elections.
Mark who made this remark as the National Assembly resumed today said, “The polity is assailed by political tremors, all on account of the 2015 elections! Here in this chamber, we are first and foremost Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and though not impervious to the present centrifugal political pulls, we must put the interest of Nigeria above every other consideration. We must not only rise above narrow, parochial and partisan considerations, we must also very eloquently, by deeds and words, demonstrate the capacity and willingness to moderate national discourse, and balance the polity. This we can only do by always standing with the people and on the side of truth, and by painstakingly striving at all times to do what is legally and constitutionally right and morally justifiable.

He added that “ It is disheartening that even though the general elections of 2015 are two years away, political jobbers, sycophants, and hustlers have prematurely seized the political space, and are being allowed to set the tone of national discourse. This is an unnecessary and avoidable distraction by characters or hirelings who are desperately in search of relevance. They are only out to feather their own nests and in the process unduly overheat the polity. They employ every weapon, including threats of war, and open saber rattling, to advance their partisan causes. I am therefore compelled to urge restraint and to call on all putative contestants to various political positions in 2015 to advise themselves and call their various supporters to order. My prayer is to see our democracy advance to a level where those who lose elections would stoically accept the verdict of the electorate, congratulate the winners, and forge ahead. Beating the drums of war, chanting war songs and blackmailing the nation with fire and brimstone are outdated and unacceptable tools of political brinksmanship.
In Mark’s words “Political jobbers and war mongers do not serve anybody’s interests, but theirs. They exploit our collective fears and fan the embers of hatred, acrimony and division. But like I have said in the past, Nigeria is greater than any of its parts, and it is in our collective interest to promote her unity based on the ideals of love, peace, patriotism, faith, compromise and sacrifice. And Nigeria is certainly greater than any position any politician will ever occupy.

He advised “the security agencies to take any threat bordering on treason very seriously and to thoroughly investigate such and take appropriate measures irrespective of who the culprits are.”

Meanwhile ,there were reports of  “fighting” today in the House of Representatives  as members of the Kawu Baraje led New PDP came on a  visit to the lawmakers.

His full address below:

SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR (DR.) DAVID A.B. MARK GCON, fnim, THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, ON THE RESUMPTION OF THE SENATE FROM RECESS ON TUESDAY, 17TH SEPTEMBER, 2013.

Protocol:

1. My dear Distinguished Colleagues, Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, my bosses!

2. Once again, we thank God Almighty for protecting us, for sparing our lives during the break and for bringing us back to this chamber, hale and hearty.

3. I trust that our interactions and interface with our various constituents were meaningful, constructive and insightful. We return to our legislative task with a keener appreciation of the expectations, aspirations and hopes of our various constituents – as well as their fears. As you would have discovered, the vast majority of our people want a united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria. They long for a country in which our tremendous potentials as a nation are transparently and equitably nurtured and realized; a country in which law reigns supreme, and is applied evenly and equally to all, high and low. For our constituents, there is no alternative to the democratic project. What they dread, and will never want, is a nation trammeled by impunity, brigandage, banditry, insurgency, rampant corruption, and misgovernance.

4. These expectations perfectly dovetail into our core constitutional mandate of making laws for the good government of our federation, and all of its parts. Distinguished colleagues, we must therefore continue this session with a solemn determination to deepen good governance, and to enthrone the legitimate expectations of the people. The legislature remains the driving force of our constitutional democracy, and an indispensable block in the arduous task of nation building. I call on you to continue to justify this billing through tremendous acts of patriotism, dedication, sacrifice, and mature leadership.

5. Distinguished colleagues, more than ever before, our countrymen and women are looking up to us for leadership, redemption and stability. The polity is assailed by political tremors, all on account of the 2015 elections! Here in this chamber, we are first and foremost Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and though not impervious to the present centrifugal political pulls, we must put the interest of Nigeria above every other consideration. We must not only rise above narrow, parochial and partisan considerations, we must also very eloquently, by deeds and words, demonstrate the capacity and willingness to moderate national discourse, and balance the polity. This we can only do by always standing with the people and on the side of truth, and by painstakingly striving at all times to do what is legally and constitutionally right and morally justifiable.

6. It is disheartening that even though the general elections of 2015 are two years away, political jobbers, sycophants, and hustlers have prematurely seized the political space, and are being allowed to set the tone of national discourse. This is an unnecessary and avoidable distraction by characters or hirelings who are desperately in search of relevance. They are only out to feather their own nests and in the process unduly overheat the polity. They employ every weapon, including threats of war, and open saber rattling, to advance their partisan causes. I am therefore compelled to urge restraint and to call on all putative contestants to various political positions in 2015 to advise themselves and call their various supporters to order. My prayer is to see our democracy advance to a level where those who lose elections would stoically accept the verdict of the electorate, congratulate the winners, and forge ahead. Beating the drums of war, chanting war songs and blackmailing the nation with fire and brimstone are outdated and unacceptable tools of political brinksmanship.

7. Political jobbers and war mongers do not serve anybody’s interests, but theirs. They exploit our collective fears and fan the embers of hatred, acrimony and division. But like I have said in the past, Nigeria is greater than any of its parts, and it is in our collective interest to promote her unity based on the ideals of love, peace, patriotism, faith, compromise and sacrifice. And Nigeria is certainly greater than any position any politician will ever occupy.

8. I therefore strongly advise the security agencies to take any threat bordering on treason very seriously and to thoroughly investigate such and take appropriate measures irrespective of who the culprits are.

9. The greatest legacy we can bequeath to posterity is to collectively build a Nigeria that is more functional, more united, more dynamic, more peaceful and more democratic. Our objective should be to build a nation whose unity is an article of faith based on equity, fairness, justice and equal opportunity; a nation where injustice to one is injustice to all. I know it is a herculean task, but it is one that can be attained by steely resolve. As Senators of the Federal Republic and as stabilizers of the polity, we must sound it loud and clear to all our elected and appointed officials, and indeed to every politician, that to divert attention from the core task of governance to desperate political permutations, is a great disservice to our nation.

10. National redemption requires renewed and concerted focus on governance at all levels, in every tier. Concerted focus on governance entails keen and constructive engagement between all the arms of government. To collaborate with, and engage the other arms of government in the interest of good governance, is neither to surrender our mandate as the gatekeepers to the realm of the public good, nor is it to compromise our ability to serve as a check on the other arms of government.

11. Rather, collaboration simply implies that when we as a legislature discharge our constitutional functions with faith, commitment and patriotism, we will insist that the other arms do likewise. All are critical institutions in a country very much in a hurry to develop, a country whose citizens yearn for, and deserve much more from her public officers.

12. Collaboration or engagement also calls for a strict and more imaginative commitment to our constitutional oversight responsibilities. It is only by so doing that we can help upgrade the quality of life in our country, and reward our peoples’ unflagging faith in democracy.

13. We resume plenary to be confronted with a legislative agenda filled to the brim with crucial activities. Soon to be dealt with are the 2014 budget, the Petroleum Industry Bill, Customs (Amendment) Bill, Pensions Reforms (Amendment) Bill, Further Review of the Electoral Act, and harmonization of the Senate and House positions on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

14. You will recall that the 2013 budget estimates was laid before us in October last year. Let me call on the Executive to improve on that record this year. Because the 2013 budget estimates was laid early enough, we not only scrupulously, meticulously and robustly debated it, we also ensured that it was passed before the commencement of its operative financial year.

15. We are poised to do likewise with the 2014 budget estimates, if presented early! Not only shall we give it the needed scrupulous consideration before passage, we will also deploy the weapon of oversight to ensure that its developmental goals are fully realized, through full implementation, once it is signed into law.

16. I applaud the somberness, sobriety, insight, wisdom, patriotism and dedication with which you, Distinguished colleagues, have discharged your duties. I cannot therefore overemphasize the fact that these are the selfsame qualities that we must call in aid as we confront the items now on the legislative agenda, and as we continue to intervene, moderate and stabilize national discourse. And this naturally brings me to the question of the renewed calls to convene a national conference.

17. Let me counsel that we make haste slowly, and operate strictly within the parameters of our Constitution as we discuss the national question. We live in very precarious times, and in a world increasingly made fluid and toxic by strange ideologies and violent tendencies, all of which presently conspire to question the very idea of the nation state. But that is not to say that the nation should, like the proverbial ostrich, continue to bury its head in the sand and refuse to confront the perceived or alleged structural distortions which have bred discontentment and alienation in some quarters. This sense of discontentment and alienation has fueled extremism, apathy and even predictions of catastrophy for our dear nation.

18. A conference of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities, called to foster frank and open discussions of the national question, can certainly find accommodation in the extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution which guarantee freedom of expression, and of association. To that extent, it is welcome. Nonetheless, the idea of a National Conference is not without inherent and fundamental difficulties. Problems of its structure and composition will stretch the letters and spirit of the Constitution and severely task the ingenuity of our constitutionalists. Be that as it may, such a conference, if and whenever convened should have only few red lines, chief among which would be the dismemberment of the country. Beyond that, every other question should be open to deliberations.

19. However, I hasten to add that it would be unconstitutional to clothe such a conference with constituent or sovereign powers! But the resolutions of a national conference, consisting of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities, and called under the auspices of the Government of the Federation, will indeed carry tremendous weight. And the National Assembly, consisting of the elected representatives of the Nigerian people, though not constitutionally bound by such resolutions, will be hard put to ignore them in the continuing task of constitution review. But to circumvent the Constitution, and its provisions on how to amend it, and repose sovereignty in an unpredictable mass will be too risky a gamble and may ultimately do great disservice to the idea of one Nigeria.

20. That is not to say that a Constitutional Conference, whether sovereign or not, is a magic wand. The task of nation building requires patience, faith, scrupulous honesty, diligence, dedication, sacrifice, toil, labour, assiduous application and massive investments in our future. The heights attained by great nations were not made by sudden flights.

21. Distinguished colleagues, as we resume today, I urge you all to spare a thought for the plight of our youths who are idling away because of the closure of our universities due to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike. The morass in the education sector is deeply troubling not only because it is retarding the educational progress of millions of our children, but also because it arrests the intellectual development of our nation, with grave consequences for the future. While appreciating the tremendous merit in the case put forth by ASUU we call on its leaders to return to class, while pragmatic negotiations to address their grievances continue. The Senate will invest the full weight of its moral and constitutional authority to nudge both the Federal Government and ASUU towards a comprehensive settlement that addresses, in a realistic manner, the problems afflicting tertiary education in our country.

22. Having said all these, my bosses, I thank you for your dedication and urge you to brace for even greater sacrifices. With your faith, toil, commitment, patriotism and dedication to duty, our nation will ride all the storms, and berth on the shores of unity, progress and prosperity.

23. Distinguished colleagues, my bosses, with these few remarks, I welcome you back to this chamber.

24. Thank you and God bless.

Senator (Dr) David A.B. Mark, GCON, fnim
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE.

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