By Nuel Suji, Abuja.
The President of the Nigerian Senate, Sen. David Mark on Tuesday came hard on politicians whose utterances are creating fear and panic among Nigerians, saying Nigeria will not disintegrate after the elections after all.
Mark who spoke in his welcome address to Senators who reconvened from their Christmas and New year break, pleaded with stakeholders in the polity to play their expected role in ensuring that Nigeria witness a peaceful general election.
“I am disturbed and saddened by the war songs emanating from many quarters, particularly from highly placed Nigerians who are threatening fire and brimstone,” he said. Adding that elections need not dissolve into theaters if war.
“It is my belief that war mongering will only result in a legacy that we will all regret.
“As distinguished Senators , we have a role to play in ensuring that Nigeria witnesses a peaceful general election. Despite the much vaunted fear, apprehension and anxiety that our Nation may not survive the elections by some dooms day prophets, I personally remain optimistic that we have the strength of character, the political will, the perseverance and maturity to rise above all the challenges that lie ahead.
“We are all leaders and I know we will work towards peace and harmony . Our Nation will not disintegrate after the elections!.
“My bosses . many of us are already on the field seeking the votes of our constituents. Experience has shown that the electioneering period are often difficult times. Politicians must desist from provocative and inciting utterances. We may be in different political parties but we are not enemies. We must educate, caution and guide our supporters and followers. Election should be an asset to democracy but where it leads to violence or acrimony, it becomes a liability.”
The Senate President in the address, also called on the Senators and other patriotic Nigerians to rally round the government in the war against Boko Haram insurgents who he said had been holding the North Eastern part of the country under siege for too long.
His words: ” My bosses, Distinguished colleagues, it is with deep pain in my heart, embarrassment and frustration that I draw our attention to the fact that insurgency and terrorism are still with us. Consequently, several innocent and productive lives have been needlessly lost. The truth is that the North Eastern part of our country is under siege.
“The tendency is to blame government for this sore state of affairs. Every Nigerian, irrespective of partisanship, must demonstrate patriotism to our country. We must support our armed forces and other security operatives to stop this evil. Bomb blasts are non-partisan in their destructive nature. Insecurity plagues all of us and must be tackled holistically. The armed forces and government must intensify efforts to rescue our young innocent Chibok girls.
“Government must do all it can to end this insurgency. This is a war that we must win and we will win!
“I commend the Senate and the entire National Assembly for their active roles in the fight against terrorism. I commend the relevant committees that have engaged various stakeholders. In particular, I commend members of the armed forces and other security agencies who risk their lives daily to protect our liberty, freedom and security.
” On behalf of the Senate, I send my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who lost loved ones in the various acts of conflict and terror across the country. We pray that the souls of the deceased rest in peace. They are our heroes and heroines and their deaths must not be in vain.
“We must not dishonour their memory by politicising the security challenges in the North-East. I urge philanthropists, non-governmental organisations and civil societies to support government efforts to provide assistance to the internally displaced persons and the families of the deceased”.
He listed the 2015 budget estimates before both chambers of the National Assembly, the Petroleum Industry Bill, report of conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly on the amendment of the 1999 constitution etc , as the loaded agenda before the Senate for consideration.
He however said the budget estimates will be thoroughly scrutinized during consideration before eventual passage inspite of already been in the year the budget implementation is meant for.
“The National Assembly is committed to the passage of the 2015 Budget. Before we do that however, we must allow for a deliberate, meticulous and exhaustive debate of the estimates. This is an important process which affords us the opportunity to make inputs for the common good of the people. I must emphasize that this is a constitutional responsibility of the National Assembly.
“In the face of declining oil prices, it is clear that our over-reliance on a mono-product is unhealthy and unsustainable. This reality makes it even more pertinent that the federal and state governments work assiduously to develop other sources of revenue generation outside the oil and gas sectors. The continued diversification of our economy into other sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, trade and services is now inevitable”. he added.