Senator Adetokunbo Abiru’s Remarks At The Ninth Senate’s Valedictory Session

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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 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)*

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