SENATE President, David Mark, yesterday, directed security agencies to track down those beating the drums of war towards the 2015 general election, saying such actions were treasonable and should be treated seriously.
Mark, in a speech delivered at the resumption of the Senate from a two- month recess, said it was disheartening that politicians with vested interests were overheating the polity which was capable of derailing the nation’s democracy.
He said: “It is disheartening that even though the general elections of 2015 are two years away, political jobbers, sycophants, and hustlers have prematurely seized the political space, and are being allowed to set the tone of national discourse.
“This is an unnecessary and avoidable distraction by characters or hirelings who are desperately in search of relevance. They are only out to feather their own nests and in the process unduly overheat the polity.
“Beating the drums of war, chanting war songs and blackmailing the nation with fire and brimstone are outdated and unacceptable tools of political brinksmanship.
“But like I have said in the past, Nigeria is greater than any of its parts, and it is in our collective interest to promote her unity based on the ideals of love, peace, patriotism, faith, compromise and sacrifice. And Nigeria is certainly greater than any position any politician will ever occupy.
“I, therefore, strongly advise the security agencies to take any threat bordering on treason very seriously and to thoroughly investigate such and take appropriate measure irrespective of who the culprits are.”
While welcoming senators back from recess, he said: “I trust that our interactions and interface with our various constituents were meaningful, constructive and insightful.
“We return to our legislative task with a keener appreciation of the expectations, aspirations and hopes of our various constituents– as well as their fears.
Mark explained that the Senate would be “confronted with a legislative agenda filled to the brim with crucial activities among which he noted, was the 2014 budget.
“Soon to be dealt with are the 2014 budget, the Petroleum Industry Bill, Customs (Amendment) Bill, Pensions Reforms (Amendment) Bill, Further Review of the Electoral Act, and harmonization of the Senate and House positions on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“You will recall that the 2013 budget estimates was laid before us in October last year. Let me call on the Executive to improve on that record this year. Because the 2013 budget estimates was laid early enough, we not only scrupulously, meticulously and robustly debated it, we also ensured that it was passed before the commencement of its operative financial year.
“We are poised to do likewise with the 2014 budget estimates, if presented early. Not only shall we give it the needed scrupulous consideration before passage, we will also deploy the weapon of oversight to ensure that its developmental goals are fully realized, through full implementation, once it is signed into law,” he said.
Convocation of National Conference
Commenting on the recent call by eminent Nigerians for a Sovereign National Conference, Mark said: “Let me counsel that we make haste slowly, and operate strictly within the parameters of our constitution as we discuss the national question.
“We live in very precarious times, and in a world increasingly made fluid and toxic by strange ideologies and violent tendencies, all of which currently conspire to question the very idea of the nation state.
“This sense of discontentment and alienation has fueled extremism, apathy and even predictions of catastrophy for our dear nation.”
The Senate President urged senators to spare a thought for the plight of the youths who, he noted, were idling away because of the closure of universities, due to the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, strike.
He said: “The morass in the education sector is deeply troubling not only because it is retarding the educational progress of millions of our children, but also because it arrests the intellectual development of our nation, with grave consequences for the future.
“While appreciating the tremendous merit in the case put forth by ASUU, we call on its leaders to return to class, while pragmatic negotiations to address their grievances continue.
“The Senate will invest the full weight of its moral and constitutional authority to nudge both the Federal Government and ASUU towards a comprehensive settlement that addresses, in a realistic manner, the problems afflicting tertiary education in our country.”