Ahead of next year’s general elections, the United Kingdom has cautioned the National Assembly leadership and members against allowing their personal political ambitions to affect their constitutional responsibilities to Nigerians.
The Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Harriet Thompson, gave the charge after a meeting with the Senate leadership led by the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, in Saraki’s office on Monday.
According to Thompson, the UK’s message to the federal lawmakers was not to abandon the legislative activities before them while pursuing their individual political ambitions towards the 2019 polls.
“We met with the Senate President and the Majority Leader of the Senate in order to talk about very important legislative business that the National Assembly should undertake even before the elections especially with the start of the official campaign period at the weekend.
“We are very pleased to hear from both the leader of the majority and the Senate President that there is a great commitment to continue their important work.”
Thompson tasked the federal lawmakers to ensure a speedy passage of critical bills before the end of the tenure because the bills were aimed at improving the lives of Nigerians.
She said Saraki and Lawan assured the British government through her delegation that the National Assembly members would continue with their work despite the ongoing campaigns.
Thompson added, “We are here at the National Assembly to draw attention to the statement released yesterday by the international community including the UK on the occasion of the beginning of formal campaign season.
“We are strongly in support of a process that will be free, fair and credible, and that (which would) lead to the right outcome for Nigeria.
“We look forward to seeing the electoral parties set out their campaign issues that will lead to a transparent play so that the people of Nigeria can choose the candidates that will be best to them.”
She expressed the hope that politicians would campaign based on the issues that matter to the people and that the electorate, would in return, go out to exercise their democratic rights to vote based on their own understanding of what the different political parties and their candidates would do for them and for Nigeria.
She also asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to remain neutral by being fair and just in order to conduct credible polls next year.
“Once again, we recall the important roles of INEC and they should ensure that these elections are generally fair and will lead to the outcome that the Nigerian people chose.”
Saraki had earlier assured the UK envoy that legislative duties in the National Assembly would not be relegated to the background in view of the commencement of the 2019 campaigns.
Saraki said, “It is very important to emphasise that as far as we are concerned, we will follow through on the key bills. We will continue to work on those bills, because they are priorities to the 8th National Assembly – these are bills that were initiated by the legislative arm of government.”