Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday said that his experience since his assumption of office three months ago has been both interesting and challenging.
Saraki spoke while answering questions from reporters after his official tour of the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, the first of such tour to be embarked upon by any Senate president since 1992 when the National Assembly moved to its present location.
He, however, said that the rewarding aspect of the job is the overwhelming support he has received from his colleagues, the management and staff of the National Assembly, Nigerians in general and the international community.
On his experience so far since assuming office on June 9, the Senate president said: “Well, it is interesting, challenging but I think what is rewarding about it is the support from one’s colleagues, the management and the enthusiasm that you see going round with some of the staff of the National Assembly; also, similar support from Nigerians from all walks of life and the international community.”
He said the familiarization tour was meant to allow him and the principal officers of the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly to have an on-the-spot assessment of the environment so as to make for good understanding of issues and challenges being faced by both staff and management of the National Assembly.
Saraki said: “The Assembly complex represents the image of the National Assembly; so, it is important for us to see what the issues are and have an understanding of the environment. Unless you go round and have a first-hand understanding, sometimes, it is difficult for you to understand what the issues and challenges are for all the staff, their conditions, productivity and all that.
“By the time I go round, I will have a better understanding and I will know what the issues are and we will be able to tackle them one by one.”
On his impression of the situation of the complex after the tour, Saraki said: “By and large, I think for an institution like this – and over the many years of its existence as well as the number of staff – I think the maintenance is generally acceptable.” He, however, urged the management to improve on what is on ground so as to protect and project a better image of the legislative institution.
“I think, of course, there is still areas of improvement here and there, considering the number of people here, people that are coming in and out.”
He stated that the upper chamber is committed to fulfilling its promises to Nigerians by connecting with the people.
Saraki said: “There is a general desire to make the country proud with what we are doing here and I think we all have to keep to the promises we have made to all Nigerians – that we will do our best to connect with Nigerians and let Nigerians appreciate that we are here to serve and to work for the good of this country.”
Areas of the complex visited by the Senate President and other principal officers of the Senate included the Offices of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly, Foreign Affairs Office of the Senate, the Senate Press Centre, the Police Station, State Security Service (SSS), Office of the Sergeant-At-Arms, Senate’s Tea Room, Hansard Reporters section, National Assembly Television and Radio Studio, Clinic, Library, the Nigeria Police and Defence Liaison Offices.
Others are the Procurement, Estate and Works Directorate, Corporate Services Directorate, Personnel Department, Offices of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, National Assembly Station of the Nigeria Fire Service, Dental and Eye Clinics, Legal Department, Finance and Accounts Directorate and the Canteen.