By Ignatius Okorocha
President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said on Thursday that Nigeria has made significant progress over the last twenty years since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.
Lawan stated this in a speech delivered at the 17th Edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme “Twenty Years of Democracy in Nigeria: Strengths, Weaknesses and Opportunities”, which held in Abuja.
The Senate President, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the event, was represented by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North).
Lawan said, “Representation, appropriation and legislation are critical to good governance.”
According to him, “These virtues are enshrined in a democratic set up, which we (Nigerians) have experienced in the last twenty years.”
In his assessment of Nigeria’s democratic journey so far, the Senate President said, “Nigeria has made substantial progress on all counts, in the evolution of our nation, via the democratic dispensation. We have been steady, determined and forward-looking.
“We have developed it to the point where we can look no other way, other than the democratic way. What we now have to do as we have been doing in the National Assembly are ways of perfecting the system.
“The point has been severally made that there is no perfect democracy anywhere in the world, but the hallmark of a good democracy is the ability to develop its processes and procedures.”
Identifying the tools of democracy as the Constitution, political parties and electioneering process, Lawan noted that “any democracy that seeks to grow must ensure that these sectors work seamlessly.”
He added, “The legislature is in tune with this realization and has set in motion machineries for the timely passage of the Electoral Reforms Amendment Bill and the Bill for the Amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
“We have proposed these Bills for amendments, based on the limitations we realized from implementing them.
“In reviewing them, therefore, the greater goal of service to fatherland, and the overall good of the people are our (National Assembly’s) guiding principles.”
The Senate President while harping on the need to strengthen the country’s economy, said the National Assembly passed legislations towards increasing Nigeria’s revenue base in addition to ensuring appropriate application.
He identified some of the bills as the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP D3 LFN 2004 (Amendment Bill, 2019), and the Finance Bill, 2019, which was passed on 21 November, 2019, and amended seven (7) existing tax and fiscal policy laws.
Others, he said, are the Public Procurement Act 2007 (Amendment) Bills, 2019 which, according to him, seeks to strengthen the operational capacity of the Procurement Act, as an important reform and anti-corruption initiative.
Among the dignitaries who attended the event are the former Vice President of Nigeria, Mohammed Namadi Sambo who Chaired the occasion; Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, and immediate Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief John Oyegun.
Others are: Senator Kashim Shettima, Chairman, Senate Committee on Interior and former Governor of Borno State, and Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu, Chairman, House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration.