1.I am very delighted to be at this Special Government Meets Business Dinner and Award Night. My thanks to the Governing Council of the Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria for my invitation as Special Guest of Honour and Special Awardee at this occasion. I understand that the award being conferred on my humble self tonight, has actually been on the pedestal since its approval last year. Better late than never, as they say. I thank you for this honour marinated in patience.

2.Just yesterday, I declared open a Public Hearing by the Senate Committee on Establishment and Public Service, having at the back of my mind the fact that I would be here this evening. For one thing, one of the legislative Bills for consideration at the Public Hearing was the Chartered Institute of Directors of Nigeria Bill 2017, which is intended to promote and enhance the practice of directorship in Nigeria’s public and private sectors. We in the 8th Senate see this Bill as an important one that will strengthen the Institute to function more effectively. It will help promote corporate governance and a high level of ethical standards in business, amongst other things. From yesterday’s Public Hearing to tonight’s Dinner and Award, one good thing follows another, proving that – when it comes to Good Corporate Governance, Business Ethics and National Leadership – the objectives of the National Assembly are very much aligned with those of the Institute, as a prime leadership organisation that champions these values.

3.In its 34 years of existence, the institute has been at the forefront of promoting good corporate governance and international best practices in the Nigerian business environment, and it is our expectation that the proposed law will further bolster these efforts. As it happens, the Bill is just one notch in our resolve in the 8th National Assembly to conduct a comprehensive review of the institutional, regulatory and legislative and associated instruments affecting businesses in the country.

4.As some of you may know, the Legislative Agenda of the 8th National Assembly makes the economy a priority, in recognition of the need for the private sector and market forces to assume a larger role in the economic direction of the country. We have, therefore, worked assiduously to pave way for the greater modernisation and internationalisation of the economy. Driving this is the realisation that our economy was in dire need of a paradigm shift, to steer us away from the urge to over-regulate. There is no escaping the fact that developed economies around the world are powered by the private sector, market forces and innovation.

5.The ICT industry is one that perhaps encapsulates the argument for a rethink; as it is characterised chiefly by innovation, and government’s role, at best, is as a facilitator. This points the way for what needs to change in our economic approach; and we as the legislature, are responsive to this. This is the kind of national leadership we have tried to spearhead by way of our interventions, through the legislative agenda, in the Nigerian business environment. Ours is to stimulate and empower institutions for greater efficiency and internationalisation, in order to create an economy that comes with job creation, and drives development.

6.We carried out the comprehensive review of business-related legislation through the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER) working group, which is a framework for collaboration with the private sector, civil society, development partners, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

7.Thanks to this robust engagement that makes for a greater public ownership of laws coming out of the legislature, we have been able to pass many Bills aimed at revamping our business environment. These include: The Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) (Amendment) Bill, The Credit Reporting Bill (now signed into law), The Electronic Transaction Bill 2015, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Bill, The Custom and Excise Bill, and the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Bill (also signed into law).

8.After a legislative stalemate of nearly two decades, we passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill by a dint of sheer determination. The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), when it is passed in its entirety, should lead to a total reformation of the oil and gas sector. The Public Procurement Act has also been reviewed. Each of these Bills is a landmark piece of legislation in its own right. Taken together, they represent a sea-change in the intersection of the legislature and the private sector in this country, and the impact is already being felt in the renewed confidence of our recovering economy, and in our encouraging showing on the 2018 Ease of Doing Business Ranking.

9.In terms of National Leadership, let me say that I am a firm believer in leading by example. When we set out on the 8th National Assembly, I pledged that we would run a more transparent parliament than Nigeria had ever seen, to protect our common patrimony through effective lawmaking, oversight and representation. We have taken lawmaking back to the people, and broken new grounds in public engagement and scrutiny of the legislature.

10.The daily plenary is now streamed live for all to see and gain first-hand knowledge of the legislature. Furthermore, our budget is now uploaded online, for greater transparency, as part of the Open NASS initiative. The 8th National Assembly has also made history by being the first to hold joint public hearings on the budget, as part of the budget approval process. Earlier this month, on 7th November, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2018 Appropriation Bill at a joint session of the National Assembly.

11.I believe tonight’s Award is in recognition of the efforts of the entire membership of the 8th National Assembly and all those who have partnered with us in the project of repositioning Nigeria’s economy. On my way here this evening, I remembered the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in his Nobel Address, when he stated that: “Every time I take a flight, I am always mindful of the many people who make a successful journey possible, the known pilots and the unknown ground crew.”

12.Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is in that spirit that I accept this Award, on behalf of all the people – known and unknown – who are doing their part to revamp Nigeria’s economy, so we can set out dear country even further on the road to greater development and prosperity.

13.Thank you all very much. Enjoy your evening.


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