Fresh from recess, Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki has, again, hit at the All Progressives Congress-led government, asking it to embrace necessary measures to save the nation’s economy.
Saraki, who said the people are desperately hungry, also noted that the major concern of all for now should be getting the nation out of the wood and not engaging in blame game.
The APC-led government and its sympathisers have persistently put the blame of the wobble economic situation the nation presently experiences at the doorstep of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
But Senator Saraki told the government that rather than blame game, what the people, “want now from the federal government over the recession, is how to get out of it and not who or those who caused it in form of blame game.”
He gave the charge yesterday in Abuja while welcoming fellow senators from a two-month recess, just as he suggested ways out of the current economic logjam.
Some of the urgent measures listed include; raising capital from assets sales and other sources to shore up foreign reserves which got depleted from $65billion in 2007 to about $30billion in 2015 and now depleting further as a result of the recession.
Furthermore, he urged the federal government to carry out part sale of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Holdings, privatisation and concession of major/regional airports and refineries, as well as adopting the dialogue approach in solving the Niger Delta crisis.
Saraki said: “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 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.
“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 with 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 Executive must raise capital from asset sales and other sources to shore up foreign reserves. 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 e.g. Africa Finance Corporation; and the privatisation and concession of major/regional airports and refineries.
“The Executive must consider tweaking the pension funds policy within international best practice safeguards to accommodate investment in infrastructure and mortgages.
“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.
“The Executive must re-tool its export promotion policy scheme with export incentives such as the resumption of the Export Expansion Grant (EEG); and introduce export-financing initiatives.
“The Executive is urged to engage in meaningful dialogue with those aggrieved 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 and offer ideas on approaches that will deliver quick win-win in order to move the region and the economy forward.
“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,” added the lawmaker.
The Senate president also posited that while government works on the medium to long-term plans, immediate strategies must be devised to ease the suffering of ordinary people.
According to him, “Particular attention should be given to our 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 level of misery in the land. Such intervention should seek to fully execute the social spending framework already provided in the 2016 budget”.
Meanwhile, the Senate will today commence debate on the economic recession with a view to collaborating with the executive for a way out.
Commencement of the debate which was earlier slated for yesterday was postponed, following the suspension of plenary by the Senate in honour of late Hon Adewale Elijah Oluwatayo, who died on July 21, this year, a day the federal lawmakers went on recess.