Senator Bukola Saraki, the president of the Senate added a voice of urgency to the financial situation of the country, in his opening speech, setting a 9-point agenda to tackle the recession that is manifesting in untold hardship on Nigerians.
The Nigerian Senate resumed plenary on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 after two months recess and while the National Assembly was on recess, it was announced that Nigeria’s economy was in a deep recession with inflations reaching a record high of over 19%.
“It is clear to me 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,” Dr. Saraki said.
1. He said that the FG needs to instill market confidence by immediately putting 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 with the private sector towards economic revival.”
2. Echoing the views of Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, in a recent interview, Saraki said the executive needs to raise capital from asset sales and other sources to shore up foreign reserves, calm investors, discourage currency speculation and stabilize 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 e.g. Africa Finance Corporation; and the privatization and concession of major/regional airports and refineries,” he said.
3. Saraki asked the executive to consider tweaking the pension funds policy to accommodate investment in infrastructure and mortgages. That is a view which was well received when it was suggested by the minister of power, works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, in a speech last January.
4. “The Executive and CBN must agree on a policy of monetary easing to stimulate the economy and harmonise monetary and fiscal policy until economic recovery is attained. We must ensure local government borrowing does not crowd out credit for the private sector,” Saraki said.
5. He also said the export promotion policy scheme should be retooled with export incentives such as the resumption of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG); and introduce export-financing initiatives.
6. Saraki advocated for dialogue with “those aggrieved in the Niger Delta” and “avoid an escalation of the conflict in the region.”
7. “The Executive must as a deliberate response consider immediate release of funds to ensure the implementation of the budget for the near short term to inject money into the economy,” he said.
8. He also called for support for the agricultural sector and the agro-allied businesses to boost value addition and job creation.
9. Finally, he said the executive needs to devise immediate strategies to ease the suffering of the ordinary people across our country, with particular attention to citizens in IDP camps. “The images emerging from this zone of deprivation and hunger is no longer acceptable. Government should accelerate interim measures to provide social safety-nets to our people and assuage current high levels of misery in the land. Such intervention should seek to fully execute the social spending framework already provided in the 2016 budget,” he said.