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Full Speech: Akpabio Urges Senators To Prioritize National Interests First

The newly inaugurated President of the Senate and former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Godswill Akpabio, has emphasized the importance of prioritizing the nation’s interests to the senators of the 10th Assembly.

Akpabio, who is the preferred candidate of the All Progressives Congress, assumed the role of Senate President by securing 63 votes, surpassing his opponent, Abdulaziz Yari, who received 46 votes. During his acceptance speech, the Senate President urged his fellow senators to always give precedence to the national interest.

Below is the complete speech delivered by Akpabio following his swearing-in as the Senate President of the 10th Assembly.

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH DELIVERED BY H.E. DISTINGUISHED SENATOR (CHIEF) GODSWILL OBOT AKPABIO, CON, ON HIS ELECTION AS THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, THIS 13TH DAY OF JUNE, 2023.

H.E. the Deputy Senate President, Distinguished Senator Jibrin Barau, The Senate Leader, Principal Officers of the Senate, Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Gentlemen of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen.

To God Almighty, the creator of the universe, who alone is supreme, be all glory, honour, majesty, dominion and power. I bow before you and acknowledge your inestimable control of all that we do and that we are.

2. Today marks a historic moment as we embark on a new chapter in the Senate. Distinguished Senators, today, I stand before you humbled, honoured, and filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and responsibility as I acknowledge and accept your call to serve as the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I assure you that I will discharge the responsibilities of this office with utmost dedication, integrity, and fairness.

3. I am humbled because your choice reflects the collective will of the Senate, this assembly of Nigerians whose role and responsibilities for Nigeria is at the apex of the demands of true patriotism, loyalty and devotion to the country. As the Senate, you represent the entire country and your choice is a reflection of the choice of your constituents, of all Nigeria. And I thank you very sincerely for it.

4. Many of the challenges we have had, and many of the defining moments of our historic journey as a nation towards true democracy, have been met and made by those who have hitherto occupied this seat. I am therefore immensely grateful not only for the great trust you have placed in me today by electing me as the President of the Senate but also for the opportunity to serve our great nation, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

5. I assure you, Distinguished Senators, that I am mindful of the enormous responsibilities that this position calls for. You will have my cooperation in all matters and our joint efforts will be one of teamwork. I extend my sincere hands of fellowship to all of us, including those who, at a time, may have had different opinions regarding the leadership of the Senate. These expressions of differing and opposing opinions and views are but the fabric that democracy is made of.

Democracy, ultimately, has to do with choice, and there can be no real choice where and when there are no alternatives. It is time now to go forward with the task set before us as a collective body – the promulgation of laws and enactments for the well-being and security of the country and as a check on the executive arm of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in our oversight functions. Together, we shall reach and surpass the expectations of the Nigerian people regarding us, and our roles in building a better, safer, more inclusive, prosperous, efficient and ethical country.

6. I am pleased, as I am sure that you too are, that we have in His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, a President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who is committed to a strong economy, national security, inclusion and the rule of law. The antecedents of Mr President and his actions in office these past two weeks give not just a pointer but bear witness to an executive government that knows the challenges of the country and is in a hurry to resolve same. We should, therefore, anticipate an executive that is proactive, progressive and practical. Our laws must, therefore, align with the vision of Mr. President to protect and provide for our people at the innermost core of their essence while our actions must also guarantee the best and most efficient use of our national commonwealth.

7. Government is a continuum and the Senate is no less so. We shall, therefore, further strengthen the legislative space in continuation of the laudable efforts made by the 9th Senate under the able leadership of H.E. Senator Ahmed Lawan, GCON, President of the 9th Senate. Chief among these are:

i. Gender matters, with specific affirmative provisions to guarantee women’s inclusivity;

ii. Issues relating to persons with special needs and equality;

iii. Engaging, empowering and rewarding our resourceful and innovative youths in terms of protection of intellectual innovations and property, and improved access to finance for technological start-ups. We must recognise and prepare for a mid-21st century global economy that places a premium on intellectual content and knowledge, and our young men and women must be supported to engage competitively;

iv. Expansion of the revenue streams available to the country, especially from our huge but largely unregulated natural and solid mineral resources base. These additional sources of revenue will build the nation’s resilience to shocks and stresses resulting from the fluctuation of oil prices in the international market;

v. We will, as a forward-looking Senate, pass laws that emphasise economic viability, social acceptability and environmental sustainability, to encourage alternate and green technologies without prejudicing our developmental needs.

8. We must, therefore, as a Senate, rise to partner with His Excellency the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and provide the required legislative framework and legal environment for him to anchor the policies and programmes that he espouses for the country. In doing this, I will particularly like to address our Distinguished colleagues from other parties. Yes, we may have come to the National Assembly through the instrumentalities of different political parties, so it is appropriate to recognise and respect our differing perceptions and positions on issues that will be brought before this chamber. However, in all matters of national interest, we are enjoined to remember that we are first and foremost, Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, before our roles as representatives and members of our individual political parties. There is, therefore, every reason to support good policies and programmes of the Federal Government, and I call on you to put this national interest first at all times. Our Senate, the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, will be a Senate for all Nigeria. Together, we shall be greater than the sum of our individual political parties. On my part, Distinguished Senators, I affirm that this leadership shall be yours. It shall be a servant leadership; it shall be an uncommon leadership.

9. To the Nigerian people, I say this: your dreams, your aspirations, and your well-being will be at the heart of everything we will do in this Senate. I urge you to remain hopeful, steadfast, and united. Nigerians must remember that the nation is caught up in global challenges and upheavals which have far-reaching consequence; the impact of armed conflicts in Europe and Africa, as well as global political and economic realignments, are but a few of these events impacting Nigeria, other countries in Africa and even beyond. Our Senate will remain watchful of, and will be responsive to, these events.

10. Finally, I plead with you, Distinguished Senators, to permit me to offer special commendation to the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR. On behalf of the Senate, I thank you for the fatherly but decisive manner in which you have commenced the journey of piloting the affairs of our great country. Our nation is better off with you at the helm of affairs. We also thank in a special way the Vice President, His Excellency Senator Kashim Shettima, GCON. The leadership of our great party, the All Progressives Congress, headed by our indefatigable Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, CON, has provided tremendous guidance to us all. Thank you for your wise counsel during the course of the search for the leadership of the 10th Senate. I also thank the Clerk, management and all staff of the National Assembly, and I offer my sincere gratitude to them for efficiently organising the inauguration of the 10th Senate.

11. To my dear wife, Her Excellency Unoma Ekaette Godswill-Akpabio, I thank you for the prayers you have made on behalf of this quest. May God continue to reward the sacrifices that you and the rest of the family have put up with.

Thank you all, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

H.E. Chief Godswill Obot-Akpabio, CON

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