THE EMERGENCE OF CHANGE: SARAKI AND THE 8TH NIGERIAN SENATE
Before the emergence of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki as the President of the 8th National Assembly it was a strict contest between Senator Bukola Saraki and Senator Ahmad Lawan, a Senator representing Yobe North Federal Constituency of Yobe State. The election was conducted on the floor of senate on June 9, 2015 and Senator Bukola Saraki emerged as the Senate president of the 8th Assembly.
At this dire time, Nigeria needs a National Assembly that is capable of making laws that will change our old ways of governance. Our new leaders in the National Assembly are expected to make laws that will reinvent good governance, through probity, accountability, rule of law and respect for human rights. Hence, the emergence of Bukola Saraki as theSenate President of the 8th National Assembly was as a result of his optimum competency for the job. Saraki's positive criticisms and contributions towards the 7thAssembly paved way for him as law maker in the upper chamber, because many of his colleagues believed that he was competent enough to saddle the affairs of the 8th National Assembly.
The Boko Haram INSURGENCY, WHICH began in 2009, when the rebel group started an armed rebellion against the government of Nigeria has claimed the lives of thousands. The violence escalated dramatically in 2014, leaving Maiduguri in Borno state is the epicenter of Boko Haram's activities.
Over the years, Boko Haram has spread and caused a lot of damage and carnage in the North Eastern part of Nigeria, which has left several thousands of people displaced, abducted, kidnapped, wounded, orphaned, sexually abused, or forced into marriages. Former President Goodluck Jonathan did all he could to curb the menace, however his administration was unable to fight the insurgency to a standstill.
On Monday, the 3rd of August 2015, the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki led a Senate delegation to Maiduguri in Borno State. Several IDP camps were visited on that day, as the primary aim of the visit was to bring hope to the people of Maiduguri, and report back to the Senate that urgent legislative action needed to be taken.
During the visit, Saraki said: “We have come to feel your pains and hear what you have been going through firsthand. We have come to try to understand the severe bloody struggle that you have had to endure and go through emotionally, physically, financially and in many other ways which can hardly be put in words.”
The Senate President further highlighted the fact that he could not in good conscience sit back in Abuja, while claiming to understand the level of work that needed to be done. He further promised that this new Senate, under the leadership of the Buhari-led federal government, would rather come to see things for themselves, in order to proffer a lasting solution to the menace and rehabilitation efforts.
Over the years that the insurgency has spread across the North East region, past senate leaderships never even tried to pay formal visits to the North Eastern region – this is because of the security risks involved. In this regard, Bukola Saraki's giant step in leading a delegation of other Senators to Maiduguri is commendable, as this will go a long way in bringing hope to the internally displaced people.
Although negative opinion writers have claimed that Saraki's visit to Maiduguri is as a preparation to make himself a potential presidential candidate in 2019. Bukola Saraki's visit to Maiduguri did not connote anything political, but showed that its all about striving to understand a problem, before attempting to solve it.
In 2013, as the Chairman Senate committee on Environment and Ecology, Bukola Saraki visited Zamfara for #savebagega – when the entire Bagega area and all the other villages of Zamfara state. Since that visit, following the work of his committee, the area which had been ravaged by lead poisoning has now become fully remediated.
Additionally, Saraki went to Ogoniland on the issue of the cleanup of extensive oil spillages, to ensure that the environmental degradation in the Niger Delta was dealt with. All these visitations was to get job done and not politically inclined.
All in all, the visit by the Senate President and his delegation to Maiduguri cannot go unmentioned as it represents that Senator Saraki and his colleagues are willing to use their capacity as lawmakers to make positive impacts in the life of the people – regardless of ethnic, religious and gender considerations.
Indeed the step by Senator Saraki and the entire delegation is a step in the right direction. This has shown that the APC-led 8th Senate, is definitely making great moves on proffering lasting solutions to the Boko Haram menace which has been the plight of the people in the North East.
Written by Saka Olawale.