Nigerian Senate reconvenes after 8 weeks recess

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Senate has reconvened in plenary to begin second session of the 8th Assembly after the traditional annual recess which lasted for eight weeks including the Eide-el- Kabir holidays.

The plenary was brief and the Senators adjourned proceedings until the next legislative day so as to honour one of the lawmakers who died on July 21, 2016, just when they were about to embark on the annual recess.

The deceased, Adewale Oluwatayo was representing the Ifako Ijaiye Federal Constituency of Lagos State in Nigeria’s House of Representatives.

Practical measures
In his welcome address, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki called for more pragmatic measures that could help Nigeria exit the current state of economic recession.

He suggested that government should raise capital from the sale of its assets and other sources to shore up foreign reserves so as to calm investors, discourage currency speculation and stabilise the economy.

Other measures include sale of holdings like the NLNG and government stake in financial institutions, privatisation and concession of the airports.

The Senate President also wants government to set up an Executive Leadership level engagement platform with the private sector to be seen as a pro business environment that shows unequivocally that government is ready to partner with the private sector towards economic revival.

Senator Saraki advised that government should engage in meaningful dialogue with the aggrieved people of the Niger Delta region in order to move the region and the economy forward.

He said the Buahri led-government should consider immediate release of more funds to ensure full implementation of the 2016 budget while devising temporary strategies to ameliorate the sufferings of the people.

Passage of Bills
The Senate President enumerated other areas of intervention by the legislative arm of government.

“On our own part, we must turn our attention to a number of legislative priorities such as the petroleum industry Bill. We must ensure the quick passage of this bill as soon as possible to stimulate new investment and boost our revenue.”   

Senator Saraki urged other senators to approach the current problem in the country as a collective challenge to all and offer realistic ideas on how to end the economic recession irrespective of political party affiliation.

“I must re-emphasis the fact that we need togetherness to tackle this problem and it will be naïve to consider the problem we face today as the problem of the administration alone, or that those who brought us to this situation should see us out. That would be doing a disservice to our people who elected us to help them out when they are in need. This problem is our collective problem. It doesn’t matter if we are APC, PDP, or whatever affiliation we may have politically or socially. As leaders, we must respond positively to the challenge and thinking out of the box.

Hence, we cannot allow our personal interest or comfort to becloud our perception. I do not think anybody in this chamber has gone through political persecution more than me since the inception of this government, but I will be the last to fold my arms and say that the current economic problem is not my problem. No, it is.”

Debate on the Senate President’s speech is expected to hold today, Wednesday and each senator would present their own position on how to revive the economy.

Change of proceedings
The senate leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, thereafter announced some alterations in the daily order of proceedings on the floor during plenary sessions.

According to him, the senate will now be dedicating Tuesdays for taking motions, Wednesdays for second reading of bills and Thursday is for consideration of the bills while all other traditional proceedings on the red chamber remain unchanged.

He said the purpose is to fast track the activities of the senate and to ensure proper concentration on issues according to their schedule.