To take the country out of economic recession, the Senate has 14 proposals for the Executive.The upper legislative chamber yesterday said the Executive arm of government should note that “when people are desperately hungry, what they need is leadership with a clear vision; leadership whose daily actions reflects the very urgency of the people’s condition. Therefore, our response to the current challenge must be dictated by the urgency of the hardship that the people suffer on a daily basis.”
In a 26-paragraph address read to senators on resumption from its 62- day end-of-session recess, Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki warned the lawmakers against allowing their political interests to becloud national interest.
He said: “The Executive must begin to take the following needful steps to show Nigerians, the international community and investors, both local and foreign, that we are ready to reform and do business.”According to him, the Executive must immediately put in place “leadership-level engagement platform” with the private sector. “This must be one that is pro-business and shows unequivocally that government is ready to partner the private sector towards economic revival. This is a critical signpost towards market confidence which is a key ingredient to help us revamp the economy out of recession.”
The Senate also wants the Executive to “raise capital from asset sales and other sources to shore up foreign reserves”, pointing out that “this will calm investors, discourage currency speculation and stabilise the economy.” The measures should include part- sale of NLNG Holdings; reduction of government share in upstream oil joint venture operations; sale of government stake in financial institutions, for example, Africa Finance Corporation; and the privatisation and concession of major airports and refineries.
Also, the Executive and CBN must agree on a policy of monetary easing to stimulate the economy and harmonise monetary and fiscal policies until economic recovery is attained. The Executive must re-tool its export promotion policy scheme with export incentives such as the resumption of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG). The lawmakers want export-financing initiatives introduced.
The senators called for meaningful dialogue with those aggrieved in the Niger Delta to avoid an escalation of the crisis in the region, promising to
play any role in the process and offer ideas on approaches that would deliver quick win-win in order to move the region and the economy forward.
The Executive was advised to consider an immediate release of funds to ensure the implementation of the budget as a way of injecting money into the economy. The agricultural sector and the agro-allied businesses should be directly supported to boost value addition and job creation.
Also yesterday, members of the House of Representatives reconvened after a two-month recess. At about 11:12 a.m., Speaker Yakubu Dogara was ushered into the hallowed chamber of the House by the sergeant-at-arms. He briefly exchanged banters with some of his colleagues before taking his seat to oversee the affairs of the day.
Dogara who was not expecting rancour over the “budget padding” issue, adjourned within 30 minutes of proceeding to enable the lawmakers to use the rest of the day to mourn three of their colleagues who passed on recently.
Prayers were offered in both Islamic and Christian ways for the repose of the souls of the deceased lawmakers. The speaker, decked in a white agbada and a cap to match, later called on the House Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila to move for the adjournment of proceedings to today in honour of the deceased.
The deceased lawmakers include Adewale Elijah Oluwatayo (Ifako/Ijaiye: Lagos) and Alex Ike Eze (Nsukka/Igbo-Eze south: Enugu).Among lawmakers who attended the plenary session were the former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation , Dr. Abdulmumini Jibrin who later briefed reporters, reiterating his call on Dogara to step down and pave the way for the emergence of a speaker pro-tempore that would order the probe of the budget padding saga.
Reacting, spokesman of the House , Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas said: “ Let him come to the floor of the House and raise the issue through a motion. This is not for the newspapers. It is all about numbers and we would see who would have his way on the issue.”