Fred Itua, Abuja
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday, called on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, to look into allegations that politicians were buying uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
The senate president also said elections are not do-or-die affair and called on the Commission to ensure that everything is done to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
Saraki spoke in the senate chamber, Abuja, yesterday, when senators reconvened after a four-week recess. Following the death of a member of the House of Representatives, senate, in line with tradition, adjourned plenary as soon as Saraki read his prepared speech.
In his remarks, the senate president called on politicians, especially those vying for various positions, not to adopt a do-or-die approach.
He also warned against desecration of the Judiciary and said that if the third arm of government is rubbished, it will erode the confidence of the people. Instead, he called for its protection.
The senate president said the Red Chamber, in the last three and a half years, has passed 257 bills. However, over 60 per cent of bills are yet to get the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Saraki said: “The issue of PVCs remain a concern. I call on INEC to give urgent attention to the matter. Issues have similarly been raised about people buying PVCs; this should also be looked into. Let me seize this opportunity to reiterate the need for INEC to bring relevant stakeholders together, for dialogue on the way forward to tackle these issues, ahead of the elections.
“Everything must be done and every sacrifice must be made to ensure free and fair 2019 elections. INEC is encouraged to engage the parties and be transparent in its decision making. It is important that the people are assured of the Commission’s resolve and commitment to credible elections.
“Those who exercise power should do their best to avoid any action that stands the risk of being misconstrued as coloured by partisan considerations.
“On that note, I wish to lay emphasis on the role of the Judiciary in promoting justice and bringing respect to the country. If the Judiciary is violated or eroded or otherwise brought to ill repute, so do the values attached to its role in a democracy.
“Everyone in the political value chain should therefore do nothing that could raise tensions in the country. Nigerians are looking up to leaders who will douse flames that have the potential to threaten the peace and wellbeing of our country.”
On the number of bills passed and the need to raise the bar, Saraki said: “This is an epoch-making senate that had, by the end of 2018, passed an unprecedented 257 bills, many of which are groundbreaking enough to change the game to meet the needs of Nigerians, with the potential to radically transform their lives for the better.
“Nigerians expect us to continue in this vein, and we owe it to ourselves to meet their expectations. The legacy of the 8th Senate will be written in the legislative footprints that we leave, and the foundation that we lay.
“Therefore, we must ensure that we continue to address issues affecting Nigerians, and concerning which they seek our intervention. Issues such as Unemployment, lack of economic opportunities, insecurity and so on – these still require the attention of the National Assembly.”