Nigerians are ‘desperately hungry’, they don’t need blame game – Saraki

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The Senate president, Bukola Saraki, has given the Federal Government guidelines to follow in putting an end to the current economic recession.

Mr. Saraki gave the guidelines in Abuja on Tuesday in his welcome to mark the resumption of the Senate from a seven week recess.

He said during the recess he interacted with various groups in Kwara who pleaded that everything should be done to put an end to the suffering of Nigerians.

Mr. Saraki, therefore, advised the Federal Government to among other things put in place a pro-business leadership-level engagement platform with the private sector to boost market confidence in the economy.

He also advised the government to raise money from sale of assets to shore up foreign reserves, calm investors and discourage currency speculation.

“The Federal Government should engage in meaningful dialogue with aggrieved militants in the Niger Delta and avoid an escalation of the conflict in the region.

“The National Assembly is very ready to play any role in the process.

“The Federal Government must consider tweaking the pension funds policy within international best practice safeguards to accommodate investment in infrastructure and mortgages.


“The government and the Central Bank of Nigeria must agree on a policy of monetary easing to stimulate the economy and harmonise monetary and fiscal policy until economic recovery is attained.

“The Federal Government must retool its export promotion policy scheme with export incentives such as the resumption of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and introduce export financing initiatives.”

Mr. Saraki also advised the executive to consider releasing funds immediately to ensure the implementation of the budget for the near short term to inject money into the economy.

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The upper legislative chamber also called for support for the agro-allied businesses to boost value addition and job creation.

He said it was pertinent that immediate, medium and long-term strategies were devised to ease the suffering of Nigerians especially those in the Internally Displaced Persons camps.

He also called on the lawmakers to play their own parts in the area of legislation to ensure that relevant laws were passed.

“We must ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill as soon as possible to stimulate new investment and boost oil revenue.

“As we all know, this bill is long in waiting and is very crucial for vital investment in the oil and gas sector.

“We will immediately begin the process of accelerating bills aimed at reforming the sub-sector for growth and accessibility. We must also explore the possibility of backing certain key government policies with legislation.’’

He said that Nigerians were not interested in knowing who caused the problems or which party was in government but only wanted solutions to the problems.

Mr. Saraki called for an urgent debate on the issue of recession devoid of blames or partisanship and with a view to proffering more lasting solution to the problem.

“It is clear to me that when people are desperately hungry, what they need is leadership with a clear vision; leadership whose daily actions reflect the 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.

“I say this to urge us that we must have an urgent debate on the way forward, but in having this debate, we must resist the temptation of drowning the debate with apportioning blames that will neither bring solutions nor reduce the cost of food in the market.

“Rather, this debate must be solution-driven. It must be people-oriented and less political,” Mr. Saraki said.

Mr. Saraki said the debate should focus more on how to end the hunger in the land, save businesses from collapse and strengthen the naira over the dollar.

He, however, acknowledged that the solution would not come overnight and therefore called on the people to be patient, and said that the situation seemed dire, but Nigeria would pull out of it.

“I bring a message of hope not despair because once again, Nigeria shall overcome. Let no one writes us off. We have done it before, we will do it again.

“The world has come to know Nigeria as a people who have formed a habit of proving naysayers wrong and turning adversity into triumph.

“Many times, experts have quipped that Nigeria is finished but we come back stronger. This occasion will not be any different, but it will not happen by a slogan! No, it will take positive leadership and unity.”

The president of the Senate urged members to be committed to the debate, adding that this was the best time to show leadership and unity.

He assured that the Senate would show regular and effective oversight when working with the executive arm to steer the nation out of recession.

Mr. Saraki assured that the National Assembly would not hesitate in passing any legislation geared to stimulating the economy.

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“Distinguished colleagues, let me also state clearly that we shall not hide under the cloak of partisan solidarity to abdicate our constitutional responsibility under the principles of checks and balances.


“We shall make critical interventions whenever they become necessary and undertake emergency actions whenever they are required within the confines of the constitution.

“The task at hand requires us to take tough decisions and do all that is necessary to dig our economy out of this recession.

“This imperative must take precedence over partisan loyalty. This is what the people expect of us and it is the only way we can continue to justify our presence here.

“This chamber is ready to receive and consider expeditiously additional proposals from the executive to create a new Nigerian economy and get us out of this recession as quickly as possible.”

He said that the problem should not be politicised so that solutions could be easily reached.

The Senate, thereafter, adjourned plenary to Wednesday as part of its tradition to mourn a lawmaker in the House of Representatives, Adewale Oluwatayo.

Mr. Oluwatayo died on July 21, a day after the National Assembly proceeded on recess. (NAN)

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