President Muhammadu has extended an invitation to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki for an amicable working relationship that would lead to the progress of Nigeria.
The president also called on the National Assembly to collaborate with the presidency and other arms of government. Buhari, in a goodwill message to Saraki on his 54th birthday, called for closer cooperation between the executive and the legislature to ensure the smooth implementation of government policies and programmes. According to the president, despite the principle of separation of powers, both arms of government should be united in the promotion of the common good of the people.
He noted that whatever differences that may occasionally arise between the two branches of government should not be allowed to compromise their common goals of promoting the greater progress and development of Nigeria.
There has been perceived frosty relationship between Buhari and Saraki since the inception of the Eighth National Assembly on June 6, 2015. Saraki had emerged as Senate President against the plan of the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership to produce candidates for the respective offices. Just last week, the Senate rejected the nomination of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, on account of security report by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Also, the Red Chamber has called for the resignation and prosecution of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engr. Babachir Lawal, over alleged diversion of funds meant for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-East.
In the statement to congratulate the Senate President, Buhari described Saraki as one of the most influential politicians in the country. He said Saraki is “one of the most influential politicians of our time who has made tremendous impact on the country.”
Buhari said the Senate President has successfully kept the memory of his late father alive by identifying with the grassroots in his home state.
Meanwhile, Buhari yesterday said he was optimistic that the current external pressure on the country’s economy will reduce drastically next year. The president stated this while speaking at an induction course for Nigerian Career Ambassadorsdesignate.
The Ambassadors were recently cleared by the Senate. The continued fall of crude oil prices at the international market is one of the factors that have forced the nation’s economy into recession. Speaking at the event organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President Buhari said “we are optimistic that the external factors that partly contributed to push our economy into recession will ebb in 2017.”
He told the diplomats that: “Until then, I regret that the resources available to fund our missions abroad will not be as robust as we would like.
“We are working hard to turn around our national economy by effectively reforming our macroeconomic environment through measures, some of which were outlined in my budget speech to the National Assembly last week.”
The president, who said the prevailing economic circumstances have led to a restructuring of Nigerian missions abroad, reminded the Ambassadorsdesignate that: “As we are all making great sacrifices at home, we also expect you to similarly make judicious use of the resources put at the disposal of your missions.
“As Heads of missions, you will be held accountable for the utilisation of all resources under your control. These are lean times, and all of us are expected to do more with less.” Buhari specifically charged the Ambassadorsdesignate to change the narrative of Nigeria outside the country by playing up the positive values and outstanding contributions of Nigerians in the global arena.
“I want to emphasise your duty to change the narrative of Nigeria as seen by the outside world. For far too long, we have allowed Nigeria to be defined by others, always emphasising our negatives.
“To the average foreigner, Nigeria evokes 419, terrorism, militancy, communal and religious clashes, insecurity, corruption and all our other faults,” he said. The President continued: “You have the duty to correct this narrative by taking the initiative to define and portray our country for what it truly is.
“We are a nation of 180 million vibrant, enterprising, hardworking, hospitable and peaceful people. We are a remarkable nation that has succeeded in harnessing our multiple diversities as strengths such that we are the leading country on the continent.”
The president emphasised that the ambassadors would need to mobilise, sensitise and motivate all staff under the leadership so that together they would engage with host governments, the private sector and other segments of the society to explain that Nigeria is much more than the negative image portrayed to them. He also enjoined them to leverage on the achievements of Nigerians within the country and in Diaspora.
“Think of people like Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, Chinedu Echeruo who founded Hotspot application which he sold to Apple for over $1 billion; think of Bayo Ogunlesi, who runs multi-billion dollar Infrastructure fund and is now Adviser to US President-elect; and Jelani Aliyu, an accomplished car designer at General Motors.
“Indeed, these and other hardworking Nigerian professionals in the Diaspora have never forgotten their roots and have been making significant contributions to their communities back home, and even to our economy through their huge remittances,” the president noted.
He urged them to sustain the work ethic characterised by the love of country, professionalism, excellence, integrity and honour associated with the “Nigerian diplomatic tradition established in 1957 by the pioneers of the Nigerian Foreign Service, sometimes referred to as the “Twelve Apostles” and also “bequeath same to succeeding generations.”
Buhari also charged the Ambassadors-designate to stress Nigeria’s commitment to international peace and security through contributions “to nearly every UN peacekeeping initiative since 1960 when we achieved our independence.
In addition, we are the stabilizers and shock absorbers of West Africa, having helped to contain potentially de-stabilising developments in the subregion.”
The president urged the Ambassadors-designate to be mindful of the national priorities that “revolve around the economy, security, anti-corruption, good governance, agricultural transformation and infrastructural development, including rail, roads and power” and use their roles “as Principal Representatives to build meaningful partnerships to attract foreign investments, new skills and technologies.”
The president stressed that “as Nigerian Ambassadors, they must set the standard of putting Nigeria first.” “Discipline, probity, accountability and zero tolerance for corruption must be your watchwords,” he added.