From Fred Itua, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, declined to address a joint session of the National Assembly despite repeated appeals by the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas.

He had planned to deliver a State of the Union address to mark the one year anniversary of his administration.

On Tuesday, there were conflicting statements from two aides to President Tinubu. While one announced that the president would brief a joint session, another countered it, revealing that there were no such plans.

Ahead of the planned address, the bureaucracy of the National Assembly placed advertorials in national dailies, announcing the planned address.

Daily Sun gathered that yesterday in the morning, at about 9:30 am, Akpabio and Abbas rushed to the Villa, to convince the President to make a stopover at the joint session.

It was learnt that for over two hours, the two National Assembly leaders failed to convince President Tinubu, who sources said, insisted that he was not properly briefed before the appearance.

It was further learnt that Akpabio and Abbas apologised to Tinubu, who then promised to make a brief stop over before proceeding to the commissioning of the relaunched Abuja Light Rail.

When Daily Sun visited the National Assembly Complex, security officials from the Presidential Villa were seen while the regular security agents were pushed to the fringes.

      In his brief remarks, Tinubu commended the lawmakers for their efforts in sustaining democracy and urged the National Assembly to continue to collaborate with the Executive for further development of Nigeria and prosperity of the people

“Without this House, I’m not sure I would have found my path to where I am today. That is why I am giving that respect to you. We are walking the talk. I will soon bring the year 2024 appropriation bill. We must nurture this democracy, build this nation, so the future of our nation will progress.

“You are the first and foremost leaders that speak for our people. And you have been in the forefront of this struggle.

“This institution, the hallowed chambers, represent our consciousness for freedom and sense of belonging, you ring out the latest national anthem, Nigeria we hail thee.

“You see, this is our diversity, representing all characters and how we blend together to be brothers and sisters. Without this House, probably I may not find a part in the presidency. I started off from here.

“And that is why I have given that respect this morning to you. So, please continue to collaborate, work together and build our country. We have no other choice. It is our nation. No one, no aid, no other institution or other personality will help us. Except we do it ourselves, no amount of aid that may be coming from foreign countries or any other nation will do it for us. They take care of themselves first.

“Let us work together as we are doing to build our nation. Not only for us but also for generations yet unborn. Charting a new path, the question of a programme for development. I submitted the last budget to you, you expeditiously passed it. We are walking the talk. I will soon bring the 2024 appropriation bill, that is just for your information.

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“But, we must not risk this democracy, build this nation so that the future of our great grandchildren will be sure of prosperity, development, and progress,” Tinubu noted during his brief remarks.

Tinubu called for collaboration between the legislature and the executive to build the country.

The President stated that this is because no outsider can build Nigeria except the people. Consequently, he solicited the continued support and partnership of the National Assembly in the overall interest of the country.

Akpabio, in his remarks, said: “Mr President, this is your National Assembly. The senators and members have asked me to congratulate you on your first anniversary since you were sworn-in into office. Congratulations sir.

“Before you came, myself and my brother, Tajudeen Abbas, explained the purpose of this visit, that this is what we call in Nollywood, ‘waka pass.’ You intend to celebrate Democracy Day, which is June 12. But out of honour and respect for the National Assembly, you said you must pass through the National Assembly on your first anniversary in office.

“Of all the significant things you have done, I think one of the most profound, is to take us back to the genealogy, the genealogical of our birth, that though we may belong to different tribes, though we may have different tongues, in brotherhood we all stand.

“Henceforth, we won’t refer to ourselves as mere compatriots, we will refer to ourselves as brothers, and as we go into battle in the field of sports or politics, in economic endeavours, we must hail Nigeria.”

Akpabio said the National assembly was the best place to “commence this revolution of going back to our genealogy.”

Abbas, in his vote of thanks, said the National Assembly erred by inviting Tinubu to address a joint session.

“Mr president has other commitments after the National Assembly engagement. He is supposed to be at the commissioning of the light rail station somewhere in town,” Abbas said.

“His presence here today will be lately to symbolise the commencement of the use of the of the national anthem.

“He might not be able to give any speech. All the speeches coming from us too are not going to take place. June 12 is supposed to be the real Democracy Day, not May 29.

“It was an error from us. Mr president has acknowledged our shortcomings in that regard and advised that whatever ceremony we have, whatever speech we have should be reserved for June 12.

“That will be the day that we will all convene to actually celebrate democracy. Distinguish senators and honourable members; forgive us for this lapse.”

Nonetheless, he said the lawmakers were pleased with his scorecard in the last one year and with the partnership that has existed between the legislature and executive in the last one year.

 “I want you to know that we in the National Assembly are very happy with your report card; with your performance so far. The National Assembly is very happy at the partnership that has existed in the last one year between you and us here. It is a partnership that has been mutually beneficial to us here. It is a win-win. That is how democracy is supposed to be played. We want to thank you for finding time to come here. And to assure you as well that the National Assembly will always  support your noble objective.  We want to thank you for bringing back our national anthem, for those above 50 years, the one we grew up with.”


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