President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday warned against making the upcoming general elections a do-or-die affair even as he insisted that Nigerians must be allowed to exercise their right to choose who will represent them at all levels
Saraki who made the declaration while welcoming his colleagues from the Christmas and New Year break, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu, in Abuja, said all efforts must be made to ensure that the elections are free, fair and credible.
He stated that the 8th Senate having passed a record 257 as at the end of December 2018, must not be distracted but should rather remain focused in order to finish strong.
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.
“Every action that we can take to address these issues through the legislative function, we must take; everything that we can do, we must do. We must ensure that we conclude work on all outstanding bills and petitions; and bring successful conclusion to all issues and investigations brought to the attention of this Senate.
“The 2019 Elections are just over a month away, and the expectations of Nigerians as the dates draw near, is that we continue to serve as the representatives they voted for. In our work in this chamber, we are expected to rise about the partisan paradigm.
“We should address our minds to, and always channel our efforts to how we can move our country forward. Nigerians want to see leaders who will not succumb to the partisan instinct in lawmaking.
“They want to see leaders who will bring new ideas to bear on the challenges confronting the country. These include: Out-of-school children figures; rebuilding the North East; securing the North West; increasing Girl Child education; as well as how we navigate our way in the economy for higher productivity,” he stated.
While emphasising the need not to make the election a do-or-die affair, Saraki said: “Looking ahead to the General Elections, I wish all contestants and aspirants luck in the forthcoming elections, including those here among us.
“I enjoin us all to bear in mind that it should be a contest of ideas. We should eschew ad hominem approaches to political discourse, and communicate our ideas in a civil manner.
“The issue of PVCs remains a concern. I call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to give urgent attention to the matter. Issue has similarly been raised about people buying PVCs; this should also be looked into.
“Let me take this opportunity to reiterate the need for INEC to bring relevant stakeholders together for a dialogue on a 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.
“To all Nigerians, I say this: we must have a country after the elections. We all still have to live among ourselves when the polls have closed and the elections are over. The rhetoric leading up to the elections must therefore be mindful of the need for moderation, decorum and respect.
“To those of us who are contesting, let us remember that our biggest offer is to serve. Ultimately, the Nigerian people have a right to choose who will represent them at all levels. It is not a do-or-die affair. I encourage all to participate in the coming polls and I wish Nigerians a safe 2019 Election,” he said.