Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday suggested how the recession in the country can be made the shortest in history.
He spoke while welcoming senators after their over two-month annual recess.
Saraki, who promised that the Senate would work with the Executive to get economy out of recession, suggested the sale of some shares in the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited, reduction of government share in upstream oil joint venture operations; and sale of government stake in financial institutions (such as Africa Finance Corporation) and privatisation and concession of major/regional airports and refineries
The Senate, he said, had made inroad in this regard with the passage of some of the key priority legislation, such as the passage of Procurement Act (Amendment) Bill, Electronic Transactions Bill, Railway Bill, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Amendment) Bill and Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme Bill, among others.
Saraki urged his colleagues not to hide under partisan solidarity to abdicate their constitutional responsibility under the principles of checks and balances.
He said 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 privatisation and concession of major/regional airports and refineries,” Saraki said.
He advised that the Executive must consider tweaking the pension funds policy within international best practice safeguards to accommodate investment in infrastructure and mortgages.
Saraki said senators must turn their attention towards a number of legislative priorities, such as the Petroleum Industry Bills.
After his address, the Senate adjourned yesterday in honour of Adewale Elija Oluwatayo, a member of House of Representatives from Lagos State, who died on July 21.
The lawmakers resume plenary today.
Saraki said the Senate must support the Executive to make the recession the shortest in history.
He said: “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. Never in our history has the need to show leadership and unity been more acute, more urgent than now. We cannot afford to play politics with our situation. As a parliament, we are in this together with the Executive and the Judiciary, we cannot afford to fail Nigerians.
“My expectation is that by the time we are done with our debate we should make key actionable recommendations to the Executive on what this chamber sees as the way forward in the immediate, mid-term and long-term solutions to this situation. And as representatives of our people we must follow up through regular oversight and pressure on the Executive to ensure that they deliver on our recommendations. On our path, however, we are ready to pass the legislative measures that will facilitate our quick exit from this recession.”
Senate Leader Mohammed Ali Ndume said the Senate was prepared to bail out the country from recession.
Ndume said recession could be taken as blessing in disguise because it would enable the country that had relied solely on oil to diversify its economy.
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