The senate, headed by the senate president Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday, advised president Buhari to look beyond his political party The All Progressive Congress APC in addressing nation’s myriad of economic problems.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who made the declaration at the celebration of one year of the 8th Senate, sought the support and co-operation of the President to discharge this oversight task.
Lambasting his colleagues for failing to take steps to come up with the necessary policy and legislation to put the economy on the right track, Saraki implored the President to look beyond his party, All Progressives Party, APC, to get the best brains to help him run the economy.
He said: “We are confident that one year after, the President must by now have better clarity on the capacity of his appointees. The Senate would not hesitate to hold any appointee accountable for the work he has accepted to do.
“We would like to seek Mr. President’s support and co-operation to enable us discharge this oversight task.
“We have failed to take the necessary steps in policy and legislation that would set us on the path to developing the kind of economy we desire.’’
Senate worries over worsening economy, unemployment, militancy, others
Saraki expressed concern about the worsening economic situation in the country, which had culminated in retrenchment, rising cost of living, unemployment, insurgency and renewed militancy in the Niger Delta.
He said further in his address to his colleagues in the chamber: “These are serious challenges that require all hands to be on deck. There is no other time in our history than now, when the business of government needs to be conducted with great inclusiveness.
“We must find a way to bring the best brains in our country on board wherever they may be found. Even those who did not vote for us but believe in the change that we all believe is necessary to move our country forward should be given a seat at the table.
“If we are able to mobilize the best human resources that God has bountifully blessed our country with, I have no doubt that with God on our side, we shall overcome.
“We note the Federal Government’s plan to invest N500 billion in social protection programmes in the current budget. We want to urge the government to ensure that appropriate mechanism is devised to ensure that the benefits of these programmes get to those who are genuinely in need.
“It is important that, as we move forward in this fight, considerable attention is paid to strengthening the anti-corruption agencies to enable them discharge their functions with greater efficiency and fairness.
“We want to assure Mr. President that the Senate will continue to play its part in the fight against corruption, which we believe is cardinal in our desire to improve governance in our country. We will also continue to broaden the scope for increased openness and accountability that we have promised at the legislative level.
Tasks FG on fight against mass poverty
“While government has made progress in the fight against Boko Haram and in the fight against corruption, the fight against mass poverty remains a daunting challenge. Rising cost of living, increased cases of retrenchment and corresponding rise in unemployment, inability of state governors to pay salaries and upsurge in ethnic-based agitation potentially deny government the full credit of the great strides it has made in other areas.
“The same energy that has been invested in fighting corruption and Boko Haram must be invested in taking care of the people, in making life easier and better for them. We need to begin to assure Nigerians that the sacrifice that they make today will not be in vain. We need to begin to show them that there would be light at the end of the dark tunnel. So, we must not relent in our efforts in this area over the next years ahead.
On Niger-Delta militants
“I cannot end this address without a note on the on-going security challenges we are beginning to witness in the Niger Delta area of our country.
“We urge the warring militants to embrace our democratic institutions and channel their grievances through appropriate quarters as we can ill-afford further damage to the ecosystem of this all important region and any more disruptions in the system.
“In the same vein, we also encourage government to adopt dialogue and engagement as a more lasting option towards resolving this challenge. We also call on the leaders in the area to play their part and ensure through mediation that this menace is comprehensively quelled.
“The collapse in oil price has, without doubt, brought huge shock to our economy on a scale that perhaps, has neverbeen experienced before. This requires us to develop creative strategies that would stimulate business and investments into other sectors.
“For decades, we have talked about the need to diversify our economy. But we have failed to take the necessary steps in policy and legislation that would set us on the path to developing the kind of economy that we desire.
“The Ease of Doing Business Report that ranks our country 167 out of 189 countries is not likely to attract business into our economy. This Senate understands this. With the support from our international development partners, the organized private sector, we commissioned an expert report which identified 54 extant laws that must be reviewed and brought in line with international best practices in order to open up our economy for private investments and business.
“For too long, Nigerians have challenged us to justify our presence in this chamber. Many have wondered what exactly we do here or why we should be entitled to certain privileges. I believe that the best answer we can provide to all these is to continue to seek ways that would enable the ordinary citizen feel the impact of the Senate in their lives.
“I dream of a day when the poor woman sitting in her house in rural Awka would be able to see the benefit of our work on her life. I dream of a day when a child going to school in Gusau would feel the benefit of the laws that we make.
“I dream of a day when a young lady in Osogbo would be able to say how the Senate has helped her small business. I dream of a day when a farmer in Ogoja would see how those of us gathered in this chamber have helped to improve his life. I am confident that if we continue on the path that we have walked in the past year, that day will come soon”