REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE HIS EXCELLENCY CHIEF (DR) GODSWILL OBOT AKPABIO, CON, AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY LEADERSHIP RETREAT

The Vice President of our dear country, Your Excellency Senator Kashim Shettima, GCON, thank you for honoring the leadership of the National Assembly with your presence in this retreat. We know that the executive arm is steering our country through turbulent waters. The mark of a great sailor is not how he fares in calm waters; it is in how he powers through the rough seas. If His Excellency Senator Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and your good self must take the ship of state to harbors of bliss and development, then you must steer us out of the sheltered shore, through the rolling waves and stormy gales, and set the sails to whether every storm, safe in the knowledge that you are not alone. Tell Mr. President, that the leadership of the Tenth National Assembly (and by extension the entire National Assembly) says that he will never walk alone.

My dear colleagues, when John the Baptist heard about the works of Jesus Christ, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” It was not a religious question; it was a generational and rhetorical question. This question defines the hope and expectation of every nation, every people, every group, when change occurs. This is the question in the streets and highways of our dear country; “Is this the government that should come, or do we look for another?” The follow-up question is, “Is this the National Assembly that should come or do we look for another?”

We believe that this is the government that should come to change the fortunes of our country. We believe that this is the National Assembly that should come to change our destiny. We believe that this National Assembly has come to give hope to our nation. There is an Italian proverb that says that the right man comes at the right season. We believe we, the members of the National Assembly, have come at the right season.

As the leaders of the Tenth Assembly, we must remember that the success of a leader depends on the achievements of the led. We must not only be worthy leaders but also dealers of hope for the entire membership of the National Assembly in particular and our nation in general. Check the history of the world and you will discover that the world has always been changed by a few thoughtful, patriotic, selfless, concerned citizens armed with faith and conviction. They led the charge, the masses followed.

Friends and colleagues, we can lead the charge in our country. Let us be united in purpose. It does not matter which political party you used to get to the Red or Green Chamber, right now we are in the Nigerian boat. If we all put our hands on deck, the Tenth Assembly shall surmount every challenge. It is in our hands to make this Assembly the last hope of the common man or the lost hope of the common man. The choice is ours. As leaders let us see every problem through the broad windscreen of national interest; not through the tiny side mirror of politics. Let us be the symphonic voices of reason; not the raucous echoes of tribal or religious sentiments.

My friends and colleagues, let us not make the mistake of thinking that our problem is APC or PDP or LP or SDP or any other party. That is an error. We face a collective action problem because relevant groups and stakeholders in our country fail to connect, cooperate and collaborate. But if we, the leadership of the Tenth National Assembly, can properly understand and effectively use collective action processes in the official conduct of business, we would achieve positive outcomes for our country.

As leaders of those who represent our people, it behooves us to set collective action templates for our nation’s developmental efforts, and a collaborative legislative agenda for solving our nation’s challenges. A template that would eschew such issues in collective action problems like the tragedy of commons, senselessly exploiting common resources and depleting them; free riding, being inordinately concerned with consumption and not production of our wealth; information asymmetry, hoarding information in order to have an imbalance of power; and opting for sub-optimal equilibrium where we could go for agenda setting.

Dear friends and colleagues, this retreat seeks to identify priority business for the Tenth National Assembly and develop strategic objectives for the Legislative Agenda of the respective chambers. I believe our first priority, as leaders, should be people. We represent people whose pains we should alleviate; whose concerns we should address; whose hopes we should not betray. Therefore, listening to the people in order to feel pulse of our nation should be a critical component of our legislative agenda. But, no matter the problems we face let us never forget that what is morally wrong cannot be politically right.

The National Assembly must be seen as partners-in-progress with the Executive Arm and we must create the enabling legal environment for Mr. President to justify the confidence reposed in him and his vice president by the electorate. We must remember that in every democracy, the legislators are the foot-soldiers marching for the masses.

We are also here to share experiences, bond with each other and have candid exchanges on critical issues before the National Assembly. I urge us to be frank and open because a chain is as strong as its weakest link. More so, the candle does not lose anything by lighting another candle.

Friends and colleagues, we are all leaders. There is this story about one of the world’s best musical conductors, Sir Michael Costa. His massive orchestra was rehearsing. Trumpets were blaring. The drums were booming. The trumpets and trombones were pulsating. The violins electrified the atmosphere with sweet melodies. The piccolo is a very tiny musical instrument. The piccolo player said to himself, “”What good am I doing? I might just as well not be playing. Nobody can hear me at all, anyhow.” So, he kept the tiny instrument to his mouth without blowing it. Suddenly Sir Costa paused and shouted, “Stop! Stop! Where is the piccolo? Where is the piccolo?”

You may think that what you are doing does not matter, but if you stop, the beat will stop. No part is too small and no part is too big, we are all playing different roles and we need each other. And if we win, we win together. And if we fail, we fail together. But I dare to believe that iIf we all play our parts, we would cause this nation to confess that this National Assembly is the Assembly that should come and is come to change our destiny as a nation.

One again I warmly welcome you to this retreat in the ancient city of Ikot Ekpene, the Raffia City. I assure you that the resource persons would fill in the gaps, sharpen your tools and get you set for the tasks ahead.

 

God bless all of us and thank you for your kind attention.

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