1.My sincere thanks to the Chairman and members of the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service for inviting me as Special Guest of Honour to declare open this Public Hearing on the consideration of five very important Bills, namely:

i. Pension Reform Act Cap. P4 LFN, 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (SB.281);
ii. Chartered Polymer Institute of Nigeria Bill, 2017 (SB.396);
iii. South East Development Commission Bill, 2017 (SB.303);
iv. Council for Facility Management of Nigeria Bill, 2017 (SB.340); and
v. Chartered Institute of Directors of Nigeria Bill, 2017 (SB.424).

2.I understand that, in the discharge of its mandate, the Committee deliberated on these Bills, and resolved to commit them to this Public Hearing process, in order to take into account the views of stakeholders and interested members of the general public. This is most commendable, and further affirms our belief in taking lawmaking back to the people.

3.It becomes necessary, therefore, to ensure that the provisions of these Bills are subjected to very rigorous examination, and that we take on board the comments of all concerned, in order to ensure that any eventual laws are fit for the purpose – designed to have positive impact on people’s lives.

4.The Pension Reform Act (Amendment) Bill, for example, is one that has elicited much commentary, particularly from the Labour unions. The Bill is intended to alleviate challenges faced by our retirees who find it difficult to access their funds after retirement. One of the provisions of the Bill, therefore, is to allow retirees to access 75 percent of their benefits as a lump sum – which is quite a leap from the current rate of 25 percent. While this is welcome news from many, there are those who have expressed concern about some of the provisions, even as some others quibble with the proposal to exclude the paramilitary agencies from the scheme. It is my hope that, after this Public Hearing, we will have heard the various shades of opinion on the Bill, and the Senate will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were, in terms of the workability of the Bill.

5.The Chartered Polymer Institute of Nigeria Bill is targeted towards the establishment of an institute of the same name – to promote, advance, research and develop the application of Polymer Science Engineering and technology in the polymer and allied industries in the country. Put simply, polymers – including rubbers, nylon and the widely used plastics – are a serious environmental issue in our towns and cities, as there are currently no standards or regulations for their disposal. They litter our environment, and the fumes when they are burnt, are hazardous to health – not forgetting the adverse effect on the ozone layer, worsening climate change. Some of you may have heard of the rip-off that was ‘Plastic Rice’ earlier this year. An institute, such as the one proposed by this Bill, would be able to join forces with agencies like NAFDAC to curtail the production and importation of so-called Plastic Rice, and safeguard health.

6.The South East Development Commission Bill is aimed at developing the commercial potential of the South East, and to help enhance infrastructural development in the region. I think it is fair to say that this Bill created a lot of excitement and debate when it passed Second Reading in June of this year; and I am sure we will have robust and passionate contribution on the Bill at this Public Hearing, which is why this platform is so important. I share the belief of the co-sponsors of the Bill, Distinguished Senators Stella Oduah and Samuel Anyanwu, which is that the economic development and enhancement of a region such as the South East would help engender a greater sense of belonging in relation to the Nigeria Project. Indeed, this was one of the thrusts of my message at the Southern Senators Forum in Calabar, Cross River State, just last week.

7.However, as I said at that occasion and also stated in the past with regard to this Bill, the unity of Nigeria must be our primary focus. Bearing that in mind, we hope that stakeholders will take the opportunity of this Public Hearing to dissect all the issues around this Bill and to air their views, to enable us get a measure of the Bill as a whole.

8.The Council for Facility Management of Nigeria Bill seeks to establish a Council to regulate the profession of facility management in Nigeria. This is a 2.5 billion dollar industry that spans the public and private sectors; and the Bill aims to bring about a ‘new thinking’ in the operation and management of our facilities. Similarly, the Chartered Institute of Directors Bill aims to promote the practice of directorship in the public and private sectors, and provide training, while also facilitating good governance, amongst other provisions.

9.These fives Bills cut across so many spheres of life in Nigeria – from the South East to the public and private sectors, to the environment and what conditions and benefits a pensioner can expect, after long years of service to the fatherland. I trust that the Bills will get the full attention of the eminent stakeholders and experts we have gathered here today. I am also quite confident that, by the end of this exercise, we would have made appreciable progress in our consideration of these bills, to the greater good of Nigeria.

10.Accordingly, Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with pleasure and great expectation that I declare this Public Hearing open. I wish you fruitful deliberations and I look forward to your findings.

Thank you.


Abubakar Bukola Saraki MBBS CON (pronunciationⓘ; born on 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who served as the 13th president of the Nigerian Senate from 2015 to 2019.[1][2] He previously served as the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections