- The Northern Senators Forum (NSF) retreat is currently taking place in Katsina state
- Senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, addressed the forum earlier today, Tuesday, December 12
- Discussion at the forum is centered majorly around the issue of restructuring
Senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, has hailed northern senators for their conduct during the long absence of President Muhammadu Buhari from the country on medical vacation.
Saraki, who gave the commendation during his speech at the Northern Senators Forum retreat in Katsina today, December 12, said the NSF members steadied the ship of Nigeria while Buhari was on medical leave.
According to the Senate president, members of the NSF alongside their southern counterparts "led with commitment and rejected political opportunism and personal ambition or interest, to put the country first during the president's absence."
“NSF members were extremely helpful in stabilising the system during that sensitive period. This is the kind of responsible leadership Nigerians rely on us to deliver.
“You have always been there when the country needed you, not only during Mr. President’s time away, but also on other national issues. We thank you, urge you not to tire in your efforts, and we pray that your energy shall never wane.
“Yours is an example of responsible leaders heeding the call of history by rising to the challenges of the moment,” Saraki said.
NAIJ.com gathered that the major focus of the retreat is on the question of the restructuring of the country with a view to articulating the north’s position in relation to the issue.
Saraki urged the NSF members to discuss the issue and all other prevalent issues in the region with open mind.
His words: “In this region of ours - hurt and wounded by the cataclysm of insurgency and other problems - talk of restructuring can seem a bit fanciful.
“Nonetheless, we must face all issues with open minds, giving each the attention it deserves. I am confident that the Northern Senators Forum is up to the task.
“Restructuring, for good or for ill, is the front burner issue in the polity at the present time. I have intimated elsewhere that one problem with all the talk about restructuring is that the discussion is not being framed properly – and certain precepts are missing.
“I have said, and it is my firm conviction, that we must give precedence to the unity of Nigeria at all times, and put the interests of the country first. We must not be afraid to think outside the box. We must not be afraid of reform.”
He went on to describe what restructuring means to him saying, “my own restructuring is when we work towards economic development in every part of the country, so we can all take pride of place in the Nigerian project, and no region is seen as a weak link.
“My own restructuring is when we oversee the budget process to ensure equitable spread of critical infrastructure in every corner of the country, so that no region is left out of the gains of economic recovery.
“My own restructuring is when we create jobs and enhance food production so our people do not go hungry.
“My own restructuring is when we educate our children so that they can realise their full potential and partake in the promise of the future.
“My own restructuring is when we place a premium on delivering good governance, fight against corruption, valourise honesty and live to serve the people – without betraying the trust reposed in us.”
He urged the NSF to work to stimulate greater participation of state governments and the private sector in the northern economy and create an enabling environment for economic activities, and mitigate those factors that discourage investment.
He noted that, as things stand now, there is little or no incentive for an investor to pursue economic activity in the region due to insecurity.
“We need peace and stability, therefore, for our economic objectives to have the chance to come to fruition.This is a time for courageous leadership, strong enough to change the narrative of Northern Nigeria,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal has dismissed 13 out of the 18 count charges filed against Saraki, even as the Senate president's legal team has concluded plans to appeal the three other charges at the Supreme Court.
The three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson unanimously ordered the Senate president to return to the CCT to face trial on three of the counts.
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