REMARKS DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, AS GUEST OF HONOUR OF THE EUROPEAN UNION AT THE 2019 EUROPE DAY HELD IN ABUJA ON MAY 9, 2019.
- It is indeed a pleasure to join our great international partners the European Union in celebrating the 2019 Europe Day, which is held annually in commemoration of the Schuman Declaration, whose spirit of democracy and development through cooperation has brought us all together here tonight.
- My warm greetings and gratitude to Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, for my invitation to this event which, I note, is co-hosted by all 20 EU Members States in Nigeria. It is really as good as it gets, and I thank Ambassador Ketil, with whom I have had the special privilege of working to achieve some remarkable notches towards Nigeria’s progress in my time as President of the Senate.
- As the 8th National Assembly approaches the end of its tenure, I must say that we in the Nigerian legislature have come to value most dearly our relationship with the EU, and for all we have been able to achieve in partnership with you in order to make democracy work in the best interest of our people.
- The Senate Roundtable on Migration and Human Trafficking, held last year in partnership with the EU, stands out as one of the high markers of our working together. As a result of that dialogue, we were able to go a long way in sensitizing some of the most affected communities as to the dangers inherent in youths taking irregular routes out of the country. The communiqué issued at the end of the Roundtable recommended strong measures to be adopted by the relevant agencies and community leaders to deter young people from making these journeys, and to rehabilitate the victims.
- We shall continue to rely on the EU for continued strong support and partnership to tackle to this issue. I keep saying it is a challenge that faces us both – we as a country on the African end as an originating nation, and you in the EU as countries of destination. We must therefore continue to commit to finding workable and creative solutions to this issue, so that we can minimise the adverse impact on both ends. It is a win-win for us – Nigeria and the EU; and I have no doubt that with continued cooperation and partnership, we shall see to a drastic reduction in the numbers beating the pathways to Europe.
- One of the factors that exacerbate the issue of irregular migration is the state of the economy. It will therefore interest you to know that we as the 8th Senate have worked assiduously to aid the recovery of the Nigerian economy. This we did through era-defining economic priority Bills including the Companies and Allied Matters Act, popularly known as CAMA, the Secured Transaction in Movable Assets and so on, to create more opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises and to power job creation, so that more of our youths can have positive things doing and see futures for themselves in this country.
- The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit law (NFIU), which we passed, was crucial in the restoration of the country’s standing in the Egmont Group, thereby going a good way to assure investors about the strides we are making in eradicating corruption and opening the country up for business.
- We have made great leaps in Police Reform in the last few weeks, especially, with the Police Trust Fund Bill and the Police Reform Bill, to modernise the Force, cater better for the welfare of officers, and build up the confidence of the people in the Nigeria Police. This too will help improve the security situation in the country. I have no doubt that, before too long, Nigerians and our international partners will begin to see the appreciable gains of this legislative vision on our part.
- We call on the EU to keep partnering with us to defeat the scourge of terrorism and other factors that tend to lead to heightened state of insecurity, so that Nigerians and all who dwell in it can live with a greater sense of safety. We cannot do it alone. I look forward to greater partnerships and an even more deepened relationship between Nigeria and the EU.
- For my part as an individual, I promise you that I will continue to work for the greater realisation of the Nigeria-EU relationship in whatever capacity.
- On that note, let me wish you all, once again, a wonderful Europe Day Celebration. Have a wonderful evening.
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE