SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (C.O.N) ON THE PRESENTATION OF THE 2018 APPROPRIATION BILL – 7TH NOVEMBER, 2017

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (C.O.N) ON THE PRESENTATION OF THE 2018 APPROPRIATION BILL – 7TH NOVEMBER, 2017.

 

PROTOCOL.

 

 

 

1. Mr. President, on behalf of my colleagues, Distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Honourable Members of the House of Representatives, I welcome you and members of your Executive team to this joint session of the National Assembly.

 

2. What a delight it is to see you looking so well and rejuvenated, Mr. President. We are most grateful to God for your revived state of health in this period of national recovery, and we pray it continues. Let me use this opportunity to thank all those Members of the National Assembly that put the country first and resisted the urge to play politics during Mr. President’s time away.

 

3. It is pleasing to note that the budget is being presented earlier than December. This is a welcome development.

 

4. I must commend Mr. President, the Economic Management Team, my Distinguished colleagues and Honourable members of the House of Representatives as well as all Nigerians, for working together to make the necessary sacrifices to get the economy out of recession. Without doubt, this recovery benefitted from greater policy coordination, prioritization and passage of economic reform bills, but more importantly, the resilience of the Nigerian people. Having said that, it is pertinent to note that the implementation of the 2018 Budget – how it is implemented – will be a defining element of this Administration. We must therefore continue to work together to steady the ship of this recovery.

 

5. As the country gradually recovers, it is important to reset the fundamentals that drive our economy – so we do not slide back into recession. We must reassess the relationship between oil and our economy. Oil prices are gradually inching up, but that is no reason for complacency in our diversification drive. We must grow our economy away from oil – as well as the need to increase non-oil revenue generation and collection.

 

6. Revenue from taxes as well as independent revenues from State Owned Enterprises must be taken seriously. If the budget is to be funded, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to revenue under-performance. While there is a need to review extant laws guiding the operation of some Government enterprises, I would urge for more determined effort on the part of the Executive, to plug leakages. This sector alone accounts for over 40 trillion naira in valuation, of which less than 400 billion naira is remitted as revenue to the Consolidated Federation Account. This is not acceptable. We need to vigorously address this area.

 

7. The budgets of parastatals and agencies are meant to be submitted with this budget presentation, as stipulated by the constitution. We must work to ensure that these are passed by the end of the year, and sanction those parastatals and agencies that fail to submit their budget along with the 2018 budget, and deny access to capital expenditure unless budget is passed.

 

8. Further to the area of increasing independent revenue, there is the need to review agreements that government has signed with some private sector service providers. Many of these agreements are biased, and clearly, not in the interest of the country.

 

9. We appreciate the need to spend, Mr. President. However, we must ensure that our borrowing is targeted at productive projects that will stimulate the economy. We must ensure real value-for-money in projects funded by borrowing, and make doubly sure that the projects are not overpriced.

 

 

 

10. To ensure consistency in government’s economic programmes and tax policies, we will be requiring that the submission of the 2018 Budget – and budget submissions going forward – be accompanied by a Finance Bill. This bill – which should clearly detail the imposition, alteration or regulation of taxes such as the proposed tax on luxury items and excise taxes, among others – will put the financial proposals of government into effect.

 

11. As we are all aware, many businesses were adversely affected by the recession; many lost their means of livelihood. As the country emerges from that period of uncertainty, the question on the lips of many Nigerians has been this: How does the recovery translate into tangible economic benefits for me? We must remember that the real gains must be felt on a personal level by the individual, for economic recovery to have meaning. People are seeking to get back to work but cannot find jobs. Entrepreneurs want to restart their businesses but are finding it difficult to access the needed capital. As for our farmers, the last thing they want is for produce to go to waste because people cannot afford to buy.

 

12. Looking around today, we see that many of our undergraduates are apprehensive about their graduation day; and our National Youth Corps members are not looking forward to the end of the service year, for fear of being tagged ‘unemployed’. While I commend your current efforts at tackling unemployment – especially among the youth through Federal Youth Programmes such as YouWin, N-Power, and YES-Programme – deliberate steps must be taken to make the 2018 budget a job oriented one.

 

13. In line with that, we must see to the implementation of the Procurement law, with particular relevance to the part that has to do with support for Made-In-Nigeria goods. The implementation of the 2018 budget must anchor on the Made-In-Nigeria project. This should be reflected in government procurements in 2018.

14. As we strive to start implementing the budget from January, all would be in vain if we do not eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and speed up the procurement process. We are working towards reviewing the Procurement Act to achieve this.

15. Also, government should continue to create the enabling environment for private sector businesses to thrive through its policies and spending priorities. As we pat ourselves on the back that Nigeria has made a quantum leap, going up 24 places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking, we cannot rest on our laurels. There is a need to complement reforms in the ease of doing business with targeted spending on those critical infrastructure projects that enhance economic activity and job creation.

16. In view of this, we must move beyond budgetary provisions without adequate funding available for the execution of projects – and ensure that selection of contractors, as well as the release of funds, are transparent. We must therefore make project completion a top priority, especially those projects that directly impact the lives of our people.

17. On our part, the 8th National Assembly is standing firm on its objective of expanding economic opportunities through economic reform bills that we have prioritized. Some of these are beginning to affirm the vision of reforms that we need in order to move our country forward.

18. Let me now talk about mainstreaming social inclusion. Mr. President, each and every Nigerian wants to be part of the economic progress. We must never lose sight of the need for equity and balanced development across the entire spread of our country. Infrastructural development should be seen to be well distributed, to create growth pools away from the major city centres and drive the regeneration of our rural areas. Agriculture, for instance, is meaningless without those that will engage in farming in the countryside. The current rate of rural-to-urban migration is alarming and unsustainable – congesting the cities and stretching resources to breaking point, while undermining the economic viability of some states. People must be able to see a future for themselves in every corner of this country, not just in the big cities.

19. Mr. President, there are big ticket projects like Power, Rail and A-Trunk roads, but also, there are smaller projects which impact people’s lives. We must do both. Those in charge should ensure proper execution or face sanction.

20. It is important that I emphasize that the presentation of the budget should in no way dampen enthusiasm for the implementation of the 2017 Budget. Whatever needs to be done to ensure that we achieve close to full implementation of the budget, is what must be done.

21. As I close, Mr. President, I would like to advise and caution that there is no better time in this Administration than now for a rigorous drive for good working relationship between the Executive and the Legislature. The early passage of the 2018 budget will depend on this good working relationship. The passage of important Executive bills that improve ‘ease of doing business’ is also dependent on this. So, Mr. President, the 469 Members in this chamber are your true partners that will ensure the success of your administration in achieving its goals and objectives. So, lobby them (not the PDP way), close ranks and let them work for you.

22. Let me assure Mr. President that, in considering the 2018 Budget proposal, the National Assembly will work with your team, as we are convinced that more can be achieved together.

23. On this note, I hereby invite Your Excellency to deliver your speech and lay the 2018 Budget proposal for the consideration of the National Assembly, in accordance with Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

24. I thank you all for your attention.

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

 

GOODWILL MESSAGE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON NIGERIA-MOROCCO PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDSHIP GROUP.

GOODWILL MESSAGE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, ON THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON NIGERIA-MOROCCO PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDSHIP GROUP AT SENATE CONFERENCE ROOM 0.22, WEDNESDAY 4TH OCTOBER 2017.

 

Protocol,

1. I am highly delighted to deliver a goodwill message on the occasion of the inauguration of the Senate Committee on Nigeria-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship Group. I welcome all members to this important event.

 

2. Distinguished colleagues, Nigeria and Morocco are two of the greatest countries in the North-West African region. Our individual history, positions, importance as leaders in the continent, logically prompts us to combine efforts and economies for a sustainable development of the continent.

 

3. Following King Mohammed VI’s royal visit to President Muhamadu Buhari in December 2016, the two countries have enjoyed several bilateral trade and economic relations. The relationship has opened a gate way to very strategic partnerships especially with the pipeline and fertilizer agreements signed in Rabat in May 2017. These two agreements have continental scope and dimension as their success will be a major milestone for the region. The economic advantage of our unity is the gas pipeline project for which cooperation agreement has been signed.

 

4. The integration of Africa into the global energy equation has come to stay and Nigeria and morocco have a strategic role to play to economically link Africa to Europe and other consumer nations.

 

5. The multi-billion dollar OCP (Morocco) and FESPAN (Nigeria) agreement on the production of fertilizer will have an effect on the economy of the region as a whole. It will allow agricultural development which will creategreater prosperity, improve food security and eradicate hunger. It is expected that the public and private sectors of both countries would collaborate to leverage on the abundant opportunities to create sustainable economic growth in the region. I have no doubt in my mind that Nigeria and Morocco’s relationship is at all-time best, thus we must do everything possible to maintain and strengthen this unique cooperation.

 

6. Following my visit to the President of the House of Councilors in Rabat in the month of March this year, H.E. Mr. Hakim Benchamach and I discussed how to deepen parliamentary cooperation between Nigeria and Morocco in order to support our executive arm of governments. We came to the conclusion that setting up an effective parliamentary friendship group at the parliament of both countries is a good starting point. I am happy that we have kept this promise and moving towards the brighter side of our relationship. Another issue that came up during my visit to Rabat that is relevant to what we are doing here today, was the possibility of setting up an inter-continental forum of parliaments in Africa and Latin America through a joint parliamentary action within the framework of south-south cooperation. This committee can consider taking up such an agenda to discuss the pros and cons and the overall benefit to our people particularly in achieving our sustainable development agenda.

 

7. As an inter-parliamentary group I expect all members of the Nigeria-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship group to foster the development of friendship between our two countries and develop close relations and cooperation between our parliaments. Our role as parliamentarians is to formulate legislations that will build on the already blooming relationship between our countries and create ripple effects across the Africa. I want to urge you to put in your best, sacrifice time and always look for compromise to move our relationship forward.

 

8. This committee hereby stands inaugurated on this day the 4th October 2017.

 

9. I wish you successful deliberations and hope our visitors from the Moroccan parliament will relish the ambience of the Capital city of Abuja and its diverse mixture of Nigeria’s cultures.

 

10. Thank you and God Bless

God Bless the National Assembly

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

 

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE IPU AFRICA REGIONAL CONFERENCE OF YOUNG PARLIAMENTARIANS

KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE IPU AFRICA REGIONAL CONFERENCE OF YOUNG PARLIAMENTARIANS AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, ABUJA, 27TH – 28TH 2017.

 

Protocol;

 

I am delighted to deliver this keynote address on the regional conference of young Parliamentarians in Africa under the auspices of the Young Parliamentarians Forum of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

 

The memories are still fresh on how the Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives and my humble self, inaugurated this forum in this same conference room two years ago. That singular action made us to become part of history, a feeling of providing leadership in legislative advocacy, consensus building and living up to the feelings, aspirations and developmental agenda of young person’s not only in Nigeria but across the continent of Africa.

 

History is once again being written today on an International scale, courtesy of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Young Parliamentarians of the National Assembly and their counterparts from Africa sister countries as well as Honorable members from Nigeria’s State Houses of Assembly.

 

Today, we host prestigious members of African Parliaments and members of the global community not to mention the unexpected but highly appreciated presence of Mr. Martin Chungong, the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. We welcome you all to Nigeria and we hope you will relish the ambience of the Capital city of Abuja and its diverse mixture of Nigeria’s cultures.

 

I cannot agree more on the strategic importance of the theme of this conference in national development of our countries. Your presence to us, is an undeniable justification of the resolve of the Nigerian National Parliament to take a confident walk on the trail of achieving socio-economic and political inclusion of the Nigerian youth, a collaborative effort that is crucial to achieving good governance and development. More importantly, the effort of the National Assembly is targeted at making the youth initiators of positive energies for global peace.

 

The agitations of Young Members of the National Assembly, youth groups and Civil Society organisations for the inclusion of young persons in leadership and in the decision making process, is not just one of those instruments adopted by pressure groups to attract attention but a demand for initiating and sustaining good governance and development. Therefore, when these agitations were expressed in form of a request for the reduction in the qualification age for running for Public offices, the leadership of the National Assembly saw it as an opportunity to change the leadership temperament in developing societies, an opportunity to prepare for the future of Africa as a socio-economically and politically developed continent. It gladdens my heart that the National Assembly reduced the age qualification for running for Public offices to as low as 25 years and we believe this will be enshrined in our Constitution after the entire amendment process must have been completed.

 

Inclusiveness as it relates to the theme of this Conference is a panacea to achieving peaceful societies, however where injustice, poverty and lack of political will for reform are paramount, political engagement and inclusiveness of youth will achieve very little or none at all.

 

As members of parliaments, we will have to be more committed to enacting legislations and giving legislative backing to policies that will eradicate poverty, exhume and expunge injustice in our society and help in the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Obviously in Africa, the concentration of political leadership must shift from playing “politics of perpetuation” to developing the education sector, building a sustainable, localized and industrialized economy that can create jobs for the teeming population of Africa’s youth. It is shocking to note that according to the African Development Bank Report, over 25% of African youth population is still illiterate. Fellow parliamentarians we have an enormous task before us.

 

In identifying with the ideals of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the leadership of the National Assembly of Nigeria had supported the Young Parliamentarians Forum which has remained very active and served as a strong platform of interfacing with youth constituencies of our country. We commend their work under the leadership of Honorable Rapheal Igbokwe, Chairman YPF.

 

In the same vein, we had given institutional support to the establishment and functioning of the Youth Parliament of Nigeria by providing funding and office space in the National Assembly for their operations and legislative sittings. This is the first of its kind and a further demonstration of the commitment of the leadership of the National Assembly to enhancing youth inclusion and preparing them for leadership by exposing them to the decision making process.

 

I am convinced that this gathering of future captains of the ships that will navigate Africa’s development will continue to cooperate and work together in partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union and our national parliaments.

 

We thank you for the interest shown in Africa’s development, we will definitely avail ourselves of the advocacy opportunities offered and I am sure the outcome of the deliberations here be beneficial to all.

 

Your Excellences, Secretary General of the IPU, my brother Legislators from Africa and the State Assemblies, it is therefore my pleasure to declare this Conference open.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you.

 

God Bless you

God Bless the IPU

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

 

Senator (Dr.) Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

 

WELCOME BACK SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON) ON THE 8TH SENATE’S RESUMPTION OF PLENARY FROM THE 2017 ANNUAL RECESS

WELCOME BACK SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON) ON THE 8TH SENATE’S RESUMPTION OF PLENARY FROM THE 2017 ANNUAL RECESS ON TUESDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER, 2017.

 

PROTOCOL

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, it a great pleasure to see you all back from our annual recess. In truth, it has always been a special privilege to welcome you my colleagues into this chamber, and today is no exception. I believe the recess afforded us, opportunity to take stock on the journey so far, consult widely with our constituents and be re-energized for the tasks ahead.

 

  1. Let me also use this opportunity to, on behalf of the entire Senate commiserate with our colleague Senator Gilbert Nnaji (Enugu East), who recently lost his amiable wife, Lady Ann Nnaji, after a brief illness. We pray that the good lord will grant her eternal rest and you, our dear Senator Gilbert, the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, we have in the last two sessions of our term devoted enormous time, working hard on critical legislation, some with historical essence and others with relatively high-level implications for enhancing the welfare of our people and putting food on their tables. I am happy to tell you that some of these bills which has since become law have already started yielding expected gains. This is especially so with the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Act, with increased lending to private sector. We expect more to come. Our ultimate aim will be, inclusive growth, full employment for our people and frameworks that enable our young people to run viable startups.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, as a firm believer that economic security is first and most important security we can offer our people, it is the apparent inadequacy of this security that is at the heart of the general disaffection of our people towards government. We have done this with the belief that with less hunger on the street; with more of our people gainfully engaged; insecurity will be significantly reduced and our economy revamped. In this period, I expect us to conclude work on the National Transport Commission Bill, and the National Road Funds Bill, the Petroleum Industry Fiscal and Host Community Bill which are pending. It is my hope that we shall conclude work quickly on the Bank lending rate reduction initiative and the National Payment Systems Bill.

 

  1. As we continue to take action to strengthen our economy, let me use this opportunity to congratulate all Nigerians for working together to get us out of recession. While we congratulate ourselves for exiting the recession, it is important that we don’t rest on our oars as this is not an end in itself. There is a lot of work ahead. Our aim is to see our economy create millions of new jobs and see growth rates of 7% or more. This is why the implementation of the 2017 budget is crucial.

 

  1. By the first week of October, we expect to begin the review of the implementation of the 2017 budget. To set the stage for this, we expect to invite the Ministers of Finance and Budget Planning to come and brief the Senate on implementation so far. Nigerians want to see a more significant improvement in the level of implementation of the budget this financial year. Let me therefore use this opportunity to call on all our standing committees to begin the process of putting together their oversight plan for a close and proper review of the performance of the 2017 Budget. In the same token, we must remind ourselves of the initiative we started and for which we have significant stride – that is, the Made in Nigeria initiative. Distinguished colleagues, it is time to enter the next stage of this initiative; the oversight of implementation to ensure that the policy yields expected gains.

 

  1. I will like therefore to see the committees demonstrate proactivity and readiness to engage government to ensure that at least a significant portion of our annual budget is fully dedicated to local procurement. All committees of the Senate must be involved in this and find better channels to engage our people and enable feedbacks. However, for these efforts to be successful it is required that we maintain peace and political stability. Hence the need for all of us to fight to keep Nigeria united and prosperous.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, a house divided against itself will not stand. More than ever before, we need to stand for the unity and indivisibility of our country. We must condemn in the strongest possible terms all forms of violence as a form of engagement. The Constitution and laws have laid down tools and procedures for us to push through our interest as all democratic nations do. Our nation is blessed with exceptionally talented and beautiful people, we are collectively strong and indomitable and it is time for all of us to stand up for our nation. Our dream of a virile nation must keep us motivated and this dream is already at the horizon.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, as leaders, closest to our people, we must rededicate ourselves to the values we have institutionalized in this chamber. In this chamber, we are first and foremost, Nigerians. Yes, we are Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Fulanis. Yes, we are Muslims, Christians and traditional worshipers. But we must in all our conversations and decisions continue to be first and foremost Nigerians and as Nigerian citizens be our brothers’ keepers. Too many of our youths, too many of our families from the South to the North need a lifting. Our job is to help government give them a hand and ones again make them feel great again being Nigerians. This is our mission.

 

  1. As we work to even make our Constitution better, it must be remembered that Constitution review is a continuous process which we must undertake with the vision of the future in our minds. The process we have already will continue in earnest with the meeting of the speakers of the various state Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly with a view to moving forward with the process. As promised, we will revisit and consider areas of the Constitution we believe will further strengthen our federation and enable our collective dream for a more prosperous Nigeria.

 

  1. In the fight against corruption, aside the bills we have passed, it is important that we also sharpen up our oversight tools to ensure that government remains accountable always. However, I urge us all to more than ever, operate above board ourselves. In the last two years, we have successfully exposed numerous cases of corruption in our agencies and officers of government and as a result saved government enormous amount of public resources. This is what Nigerian people expect of us and we must continue to deliver on this. We must not make the mistake of resting on our oars. I say this to encourage you to keep up with the good works of exposing corruption as you have been doing so far. Yes, like Senator Isah Hamma Misau who had the courage to expose deep rooted institutional corruption, you will be attacked, blackmailed and insulted but, unlike any former Senate before this, we will not bow or be intimidated.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, our focus on interventions critical to our national development will continue in this session. We will be interacting with stakeholders with the aim of repositioning our education sector and the health sector especially with the health insurance subsector as key primers of the economy. The major direction will be to expand access to basic education and health, incentivize investment in these critical sectors and find lasting solutions to issues of strikes and interruption in these sectors.

 

  1. Dear colleagues, we are all witness to the revolutionary growth of innovative works and remarkable fits Nigerians both in the entertainment industry and software development are making across the globe. However, their ability to fully harness and reap the fruits of their effort continues to be hampered by our intellectual property regime which is yet to be reformed to meet with today’s digital realities and opportunities. We are determined to contribute our quota to make their lives easier and better by initiating and paying close attention to our intellectual property (IP) rights frameworks.

 

  1. Distinguished colleagues, a lot has happened in our nation within the last few weeks especially with the floods. Let me take a moment to commiserate with all Nigerians who may have been affected by the recent floods. Our hearts and prayers are with you at this period.

 

  1. On a salutary note, I am happy to report to you distinguished colleagues that while we were away, we also took note of some of the strides Nigerians have been making. We congratulate our women on the wining of the African Basket Ball Championship. We also congratulate our Super Eagles on their journey so far for the world cup qualifiers and we will continue to support and encourage them.

 

  1. Before, I conclude this speech, let me on another winning note and on your behalf welcome Mr. President who has acknowledge his return to office through an executive communication earlier within the period of our vacation back to the saddle. We pray that the almighty Allah will continue to grant him full restoration.

 

  1. Let me wish us all a very successful session. Thank you all and God bless Nigeria.

 

PREIDENT OF THE SENATE

Closing Remarks by Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, President of Senate after the conclusion of the Constitution Amendment Process.

Closing Remarks by Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, President of Senate after the conclusion of the Constitution Amendment Process on the floor of the Senate.

 

I want to thank all our colleagues. I want to really commend and appreciate the efforts of our Deputy Senate President and all members of the Constitution Review Committee. This is an exercise for which we gave a promise and we have kept to it. Definitely, we have made history this afternoon with the exercise that we have carried out not only in the timing or the content of the exercise that we have carried out today, what we have done today definitely is to lay the foundation for a far-reaching reform of our political, economic and social development.

 

We have today through the amendments we have done redefined our budget processes. We have addressed issues that have held our country down for many years. We have addressed the issue of saving money earned by the Federation which has always been an issue in this country for many years. The fact is that as a nation we now have a constitution that makes it paramount for the country to save for the rainy days. We have also by the amendments shown our commitment to the fight against corruption by providing for separation and financial autonomy for the offices of the Accountant General, Auditor-General and particularly, the Attorney General.

 

More importantly also, we have opened the road for a new Nigeria where younger people can be elected into all the positions. Also, by the work we have done today, we have helped to improve administration at the local government level which will strengthen our democracy by and large, ensure more credible elections by some of the provisions that we have passed.

 

More importantly, we have introduced constitutional provisions that would help our judiciary in timely dispensation of Justice. By these 29 Bills, Distinguished Senators, I will say that we have laid a new foundation for a new Nigeria that will be more committed, create opportunities for our young people and place us firmly among the nations of the world that are really prepared for the years ahead. To be part of that history is a great honour for all of us and I want to thank you, my colleagues. May God Almighty bless Nigeria.

 

Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON.

President of the Senate

26th July, 2017.

 

SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE LEGISLATIVE NETWORK FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE

SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE LEGISLATIVE NETWORK FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE,ON MONDAY 24TH JULY, 2017.

 

Protocols;

 

1. It gives me great pleasure to be here at this occasion for the launching of the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This platform is indeed remarkable as it aims to strengthen institutional cooperation to advance legislative activities on health matters.

 

2. The importance of this framework cannot be overstated, as our major role as legislators is to promote the welfare of our citizens; to ensure that effective healthcare systems are available to allNigerians. This informed the desire to draw in the cooperative efforts of both the National and State Assemblies targeted at developing health strategies that will work effectively for all. This for me is another rare opportunity for us to ensure that the legislative effort in both the National and State Assemblies are moving towards the same direction.

 

3. I commend the respective Chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Health for uniting with leadership of Health Committees in the States to create this Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage with the support of the Health Governance Group of USAID.

 

4. As it is said, a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. In our efforts to revive the wealth of our nation, thehealth of our people must remain paramount. We must therefore, strive to situate our health resources to optimally serve our population.

 

5. As a nation, we have opted to adopt the Universal Health Coverage which seeks “to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.”

 

6. The poor access to good healthcare in our country especially in the rural areas is a challenge we must tackle through innovative thinking and dedication. Going by a World Bank report, the state of the Nigerian health system is dysfunctional and grossly under-funded with a per capita expenditure of US$ 9.44. Therefore, addressing the issues in financing healthcare in a sustainable manner to reach all Nigerians call for the harmonization of legislative actions at both the National and States levels.

 

7. While “the overall objective of this Summit is to launch a national Legislative Network on UHC, the specific objectives will enhance the knowledge base and understanding of strategies in the legislature,geared towards achieving the goals of Universal Health Coverage.

 

8. Finally, it is my hope that this framework will bring about the effective healthcare systems we envisionfor our country.

 

9. I wish you all success in your deliberations.

 

10. Thank you and God bless us all.

 

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

 

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND CHAIRMAN OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES (NILS), HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE SIGNING OF PROJECT GRANT AGREEMENT BETWEEN NILS, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND AFRICAN CAPACITY BUILDING FOUNDATION, (ACBF) ON MONDAY 10TH JULY 2017.

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND CHAIRMAN OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR LEGISLATIVE STUDIES (NILS), HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE SIGNING OF PROJECT GRANT AGREEMENT BETWEEN NILS, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND AFRICAN CAPACITY BUILDING FOUNDATION, (ACBF) ON MONDAY 10TH JULY 2017.

 

Protocol;

 

1. On behalf of the Governing Council of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), National Assembly, Nigeria, I wish to welcome our esteemed partners from the African Capacity BuildingFoundation to yet another historic signing ceremony of the NILS-CAP II Project Grant Agreement between the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), National Assembly and the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF).

 

2. We are today witnessing another noble effort that seeks to strengthen financial oversight functions of parliaments, thereby deepening the democraticprocess in the West African sub-region with the grant to support the implementation of NILS-CAP Phase II.

 

3. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you may recall that on the 27th of March, 2014, we witnessed the signing of a grant of US$ 900,000 from the ACBFand a contribution of US$700,000 from the National Assembly to jointly support the implementation of the first phase of the NILS Capacity Building Project (NILS-CAP I).

 

4. The first phase which covered a two year period from 2014 – 2016, was a national project with a sub-regional outlook. As part of its sub-regional outlook, the project focused on Capacity Building for the National Parliaments of the member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the ECOWAS Parliament. The project which targeted legislators and parliamentary staff in the West African sub-region ensured that capacity gaps were bridged to improve governance systems for sustainable development in the sub-region.

 

5. Following a successful implementation of NILS-CAP I from April 2014 to August 2015, and its extensionto January 2017 with a $400,000.00 grant, efforts were made to bring to fruition, the second phase of the project which thankfully, we are launching today.

 

6. I must congratulate the ACBF on its continuous engagement to support capacity building efforts in Nigeria and beyond.

 

7. It is gratifying to note that NILS-CAP II is furthertargeting capacity development in ECOWAS countries and the ECOWAS Parliament to more effectively facilitate the implementation of intra-regional trade among ECOWAS member states and effective financial oversight in the sub region.

 

8. Other important sub-themes for consideration have been identified to include:

i. Regional Trade: Resolution of Challenges Impeding Effective Trade Integration;

ii. Security Challenges in ECOWAS (Terrorism, Maritime Insecurity and Cattle herdsmen – Farmers Conflict on Pastoralism): Legislative Actions for Containment of Small Arms Proliferation and Terrorist Financing;

 

 

 

 

 

 

iii. Agricultural Policies: Enhancing the Value Chain Exports of Agricultural Produce;

iiii. Executive-Legislature Relations on Appropriation;

v. Financial Audit of Public Institutions: Lessons of Experience;

vi. Issues in Public Financial Management particularly relating to Infrastructure Financing;

vii. Compliance with Prudential Guidelines including Basel Core Principles, IFRS and Electronic Payments System Standards; and

viii. Role of Parliament in Monitoring and Evaluation of PIDA Projects.

 

9. As part of the programme, a platform would be created for legislators in the ECOWAS sub-region including Nigeria and other governance actors to discuss these daunting issues and to come up withpractical solutions.

 

10. Let me, therefore, use this opportunity to draw our attention on the emerging challenges on the implementation of regional trade and agricultural policies that should be carefully considered as we move into NIL-CAP II which, if left unaddressed,may tend to hamper the effectiveness of those policies.

 

For instance, our attention in the National Assembly has been drawn to the massive importation of rice into some ECOWAS countries beyond their consumption capacities solely for dumping /smuggling into Nigeria, thereby undermining the huge investment for domestic production.

 

11. Furthermore, we are also aware of the establishment of large pharmaceutical industries in the sub-region with the intention of exporting their outputs to Nigeria thereby, constraining the viability of localindustries.

 

12. I, therefore, urge all stakeholders during the consideration of the NILS-CAP II to thoroughly and carefully address these anomalies to ensure a healthy and competitive trade policy among ECOWAS countries.

 

13. On oversight, we all know that it is one of the three principal functions of parliaments in representative democracies all over the world. In fact, financial oversight of public finances is critical to ensuring that public resources are used for intended purposes. Over the years, concerted efforts have been made to strengthen good governance and independent oversight of public finance, particularly the budget through support to audit institutions including the parliament.

 

14. On our part, the 8th Senate and National Assembly have, for the past two years, worked on freeing our markets by enacting laws that improve the ease of doing business, promoting competitiveness of our industries and markets and encouraging the patronage of locally made goods, thereby providing the base for economic growth and development.

 

15. I use this opportunity to reiterate the unflinching support and commitment of the Leadership of the National Assembly and the NILS Governing Council to the efforts of ACBF in facilitating development in Africa.

 

16. I wish all parties to the signing of the agreement fruitful implementation and realization of the objectives of NILS-CAP II.

 

17. Thank you,

 

 

Senator (Dr) Abubakar Bukola Saraki,

President of the Senate

Chairman, NILS Governing Council

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON), AT THE 11TH ANNUAL BUSINESS LAW CONFERENCE OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION- SECTION ON BUSINESS LAW

SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY SENATOR ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI (CON), AT THE 11TH ANNUAL BUSINESS LAW CONFERENCE OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION- SECTION ON BUSINESS LAW

PROTOCOLS

 

1. It is a great pleasure to be in your midst today. I’d like to take a moment to thank the organizers and also express my sincere gratitude for the invitation extended to me to be with you here today to speak on this very vital theme “Law and the Changing Face of Legal Practice”.

 

2. When I was invited by the NBA in 2015, I made the issue of the economy the central theme of my conversation with you. Today, once again, I come back with the same message. I remember calling on the NBA to come join hands with us the legislature into a new partnership to make the Nigerian economy great again. I am glad you heed to the call. Again, this is important because in our view a surviving democracy must be built around citizen’ participation, broad stakeholder engagement, deliberation and transparency.

 

3. The Nigerian Bar Association remains not just a stakeholder but one of the most critical voice of reason within our body polity. This is why we at the Senate have continued to seek out and engage you for advice and consultations on national issues. The role the NBA plays in shaping public perception and the opportunity it offers as a vehicle for promoting good governance have continued to grow. This is why when we opened up consultations and engagement with the private sector and the wider civil society on our legislative agenda which has been anchored on the economy, the NBA was one of our first port of call.

 

4. I remember the promise I made to you then in 2015 shortly after we took office, where I pledged that we will run a much more transparent National Assembly ready to protect our common wealth through effective lawmaking, oversight and representation. I called the NBA to partnership in our lawmaking role. I charged the NBA to come up with ideas on laws that would help us reform the economy and deepen our democracy. today, in partial fulfilment of that promise and the desire to deepen the democratic ethos of the National Assembly the 8th National Assembly is breaking down barriers to engagement and public scrutiny.

 

5. We have as a matter of deliberate policy put the daily plenary on the worldwide web for all to see and gain first-hand knowledge about the inner workings of the Assembly. We have for the first time in the history of the National Assembly uploaded our line by line budget to the public, subjecting our finances to greater openness. As part of this Open Nass initiative, the 8th National Assembly is today the first National Assembly to hold a joint public hearing on the budget as part of the budget approval process. Also, we are the first Assembly to deliberate and consider the full detail of the budget on the floor before passage. We are without a doubt the most civil society engaging National Assembly in the history of the consideration and approval of the federal budget. All of these we have embarked on to further strengthen and encourage the continuous interaction and mobilisation of our people towards building a more virile people’s parliament.

 

6. We have continued to expand and push the bar of engagement ever farther. Today, the NBA-SBL and other private sector groups and the civil society are participating in the law-making process as we work through our economic priority bills by providing and engaging with relevant committees on technical advisory and support. This is another area where we have found very robust engagement and involvement with our private citizens. Aside the added advantage of enhancing the quality of the bills we pass, I am a firm believer that the laws coming out of the parliament must be owned by the people for it to have the value to change lives. Because law is a tool for social and economic re-engineering. Let me therefore use this opportunity to thank all of you in the NBA-SBL and the wider civil society that have so far participated in this process and offered us their expertise. The National Assembly is grateful for all your effort at ensuring that we build a new Nigerian economy. I hope that our timeous passage of the bills you have been involved with has encouraged you that we mean business and we are dedicated for more. For those who have not keyed into this lofty initiative, we extend our invitation.

 

7. The National Assembly is leading a new role to use legislative intervention as a mechanism for achieving economic reform. While the National Assembly has pursued economic reforms in the past, much of it had not been anchored on a solid legislative reform of the obsolete laws that guide economic exchanges. This has been the missing gap to sustaining meaningfully the economic policies of the past including the vision 2010, 20- 2020.

 

8. The current 8th National Assembly has placed premium on creating the right legal framework for empowering entrepreneurialdevelopment, building investor confidence on our economy and renewing our infrastructure base across board. On infrastructure alone, experts, including the minister of Budget and Planning that Nigeria will need about $3.05 trillion in the next 30 years in order to implement the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, NIIMP. With the state of the revenue basket, it is clear that unless we are able to expand the financing base to incorporate other sources of funding and mobilisation we may not be able to meet our infrastructure target and reduce our deficit. Otherwise, health, education, water sanitation, security and other essential public services will continue to suffer.

 

9. This is why today, we have a framework for collaboration with the private sector, the civil society and the development partners where we can share ideas, engage and consult with one another towards innovative ideas that could help us expand the financing model for our infrastructure development and financing. I am here to say that I am proud that the NBA is a major player in this framework and that we are makingtremendous progress so far.

 

10. The state of the Nigerian Economy as we met it is worrisome. With an estimated $900b infrastructure deficit, crude oil price falling down to $50-40 from a high of over $140. With a production level still hovering around 2m barrels and a Niger Delta region that remained fragile we had an economic scenario that was challenging. This is further exacerbated by the fact that in the mist of all of these, we had a none oil revenue base of less than 5% and oil was still accounting for over 40% of the federal revenue base. It is within this scenario that we are to create more jobs and stop people losing their jobs.

 

11. When we came on board we were confronted with the daunting task of creating jobs in an economy with over 13% unemployment. This administration was immediately faced with closing the infrastructure deficit gap of over $350b in an era of sharply dwindling revenue and high rate of divestment. We were confronted also with the need to stop restiveness, secure our peoples welfare, provide more opportunity for our youths on the street and raise their standard of living. This we had to do within the context of the shrinking economy struggling to meet with its recurrent obligations that we inherited. The only option was for government to keep borrowing which is unsustainable with very high negative repercussions on upcoming generations. As a forward-thinking legislature, we knew that we had to do something to ameliorate the challenge.

 

12. It was on this background that the Senate then decided to frame for herself a legislative agenda with the overarchingobjective to use legal reform as an enabler for modernizing the Nigerian economy for greater competitiveness and attractiveness for investment. Today, working together with the NESG, NBA and the ENABLE DFID Program and other partners under NASSBER. I am happy to report that theNational Assembly is making steady progress towards a methodically legal reformation of the obsolete market laws we have. This is already signalling to the world that Nigeria is ready for business and global competition. Our policy drive is simple; to create jobs and enable SMEs for growth. The focus has significantly been on infrastructure mobilisation, access to capital and credit and the reduction in the cost of doing business to encourage investment.

 

13. By the end of the second session of the 8thAssembly, we have successfully passed the following bills aimed at creating a modern Nigerian business environment including;The Electronic Transaction bill 2015, Bankruptcy and Insolvency bill 2015, the Credit Reporting Bill, The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Bill, the Independent Warehouse Regulatory Agency Bill and the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Bill. The Companies and Allied Matters (Act) (CAMA) (Amendment) Bill and the Investment and Securities Act (ISA) (Amendment) Bill are today undergoing committee consideration. It is expected that with the passage of these bills together with others we will have a new Nigeria business regulatory environment that is pro innovation and business growth.

 

14. On infrastructure, we have put together 6 important infrastructure reform bills to help revamp our infrastructure. These include The Nigerian Railway Bill, The Nigerian Ports & Harbour Bill, The National Road Funds Bill, the National Transport Commission Bill, the National Inland Waterways Bill and the Federal Roads Bill. These laws draw from the experiences of other countries with similar demographics with Nigeria. Leaning heavily on enabling the participation of the private sector in the construction and maintenance of roads, railways and ports as well as their operations. The net effect will be more investment in the country, reduced pressure on the forex market and public funds will be channeled towards more governance oriented public services.

 

15. To put into context the economic implication of what we have done, two of our laws have been identified by World Bank to move Nigeria 40 points ahead in its indicators on ease of doing business, the Credit Bureau Systems Bill and the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Bill. In addition to reducing the cost of doing business, these two bills and the Warehouse Receipts bill will create new capital mobilisation scheme for SMEs while also reducing the potential for non-performing loans.

 

16. Ladies and gentlemen, the Nigerian citizen is remarked worldwide for his industry. we have seen many advancement that Nigerians across the globe are achieving both in the field of innovation and technology and also in the most difficult areas of human endeavour. We therefore see no reason that the Nigerian petroleum industry is yet become a player in the global oil industry. But the reason is simple, the law on which the industry relies, is no longer an enabler of for efficiency, innovation and development. It has rather become very obsolete and incapable of solving the current problems facing the industry.

 

17. Today, after 17 years of trying the Senate has passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill the first of the two tranches of bills to reform the petroleum industry for competitiveness and efficiency. The implication of this bill is that will see a total reformation of the NNPC and the creation of a new and efficient Nigerian Oil Company. The derivable efficiency will stop in its track the level of corruption being associated with the NNPC today, it will free up more monies for governance and development that would impact positively on the people and give us a chance to play in the global oil market like other oil producing countries with their national oil companies.

 

18. One other major legislative intervention that the 8th Senate has pursued to date has been the review of the Public Procurement Act. The reason for this amendment is simple. We cannot be seeking the development of the economy without taken very positive policy action on the issue of patronizing those who have invested in our dear country. The Senate has made this a major plank of its legislative policy. The intended amendment is intended to compelgovernment to patronize made in Nigeria goods, especially where these are very simple with adequate local capacity.

 

19. The goal here is to ensure that a substantial percentage of the N2.5 trillion set aside for capital expenditure in the budget is retained in the local economy and put in the pockets of our people. That is one of the ways to achieve wealth creation, create jobs, increase the GDP, encourage local industries to grow and stimulate increased productivity among our people. It is also our creative way of creating mass employment. We are drawing inspiration from other developed economies that had done the same thing. US did the same thing around 1922 with the Buy America policy promoted by the Herbert Hoover administration. China, South Africa and other countries also have similar laws.

 

20. In agriculture, we have target access to finance and policy stability as the key intervention areas. Here, the National Assembly has passed the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (Act) (Amendment) Bill 2016. The objective being to increase the band of the scheme and reduce bureaucratic bottlenecks hindering access to agriculture financing. We are at the moment working on a bill to ensure policy stability in this critical area of our economy. If there is anything we have learnt over the years about investment in the agriculture sector, it is that policy somersaults have made investment unattractive in this potentially rich sector of our economy. We are also pursuing monetary policy interventions with the CBN to reduce the cost of foreign exchange. We have just recently also met on the issue of the interest rate regime- a very sensitive and complex area but for which we think we must again creatively and deliberately look at to further bring down the cost of doing business in Nigeria.

 

21. On power, we are working closely with the Executive and key stakeholders to revitalize the power sector. The intervention here is multi-pronged at the policy levels and on the legislative side, we are working to empower mini-grids. I see light already at the end of the tunnel.

 

22. We have in the last month passed a new Customs & Excise Bill. The implication of this law for those familiar with the sector is huge. We believe that the law will bring significant stability, certainty, public participation and reduce too much discretionin the management of tariffs on goods. This is one highlight out of many that will affect doing business in Nigeria positively in the new custom regime that would follow when this bill is signed into law.

 

23. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, these are all watershed legislative interventions in their own right and represents what is possible when we work together dedicated to one vision. The cost implications are huge for doing business in Nigeria as you can now in the comfort of your couches and bedrooms get into and complete contracts both public and private electronically saving transport fairs, time spent, cost of papers and printing and storage by simply going electronic without fear over legitimacy and effectiveness. Our farmers and other small businesses, will now be able to use their warehouse receipts to get loans and advances and owning a land will no longer be the only means of securing credit.

 

24. Our Vision going forward is that with the capital outlay and regulation it is expected that Nigeria will create 7.5 million jobs in the next 5 years owing solely to their infrastructure reforms.

 

25. To ensure a sound economy, our legal regime must be equally sound and provide an assuring platform for investors, entrepreneurs and businesses.

 

26. Gentlemen of the Bar, it is upon you who work with these legal instruments and on whom the business community and the courts will rely on providing the right advisory that will see to the realisation of the full potential of these laws when signed into law. As you deliberate on your conference theme, it will be good to see the NBA develop new legal culture that will help promote these new laws for effectiveness. We will like to see new tools for better commercial contract development and enforcement, conflict management, private property protection and judicial protection and security of enterprise.

 

27. This is why our next steps in this ongoing reform will focus on investment securities and the enhancement of rights. Here, we will be working to modernise our intellectual property regime including copyrights, patents and designs and other systems that will help us ensure the safety of investors innovation, unique works and ensure that sharing and distribution of Nollywood movies and our people’s music products are done within the law and in such manner that enables them derive the benefits of their ingenuity. May I once again, urge the NBA-SBL to actively engage with us as we work through these issues to provide cutting edge and comprehensive legislative review on these issues and many more as we enter into the 3rd session of the 8th National Assembly.

 

28. On the issue of corruption, while we have continued to pursue this issue using our oversight scheme, and for which there has been remarkable success, we however, think that unless we innovate and apply smart technology we will not go too far. The 8thSenate is expanding its anti-corruption policy by empowering its committee to now receive corruption petitions. The National Assembly is also taken another look at the issue of expansive discretionary powers under our laws that may be contributing to make corruption fester. We would therefore want you to ponder on this and work with us to use law amendments and new legislative proposals to narrow corruption opportunities to the barest minimum.

 

29. Corruption is one area of our national life we cannot afford to play politics with. on the prosecution of cases, it is clear that there is a whole lot of more work to be done to ensurewe succeed against corruption. The trend today with the cases we have seen play outindicates that a lot more work needs to be done to guarantee better outcomes. From the prosecution culture to capacity there is a need for thorough investigations to take precedence over media sensations. There may be need for better trainings and strategy building. Let me once again charge you as lawyers to help come up with your ideas on what legislative path we can take to help us close the gap.

 

30. I will not end this speech without referencing once again the critical role the NBA played in the outcome of the 2015 General Election and the need to ensure that we continue to improve upon what we have already achieved. It is for this reason, that the Senate recently passed the Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill to further empower INEC as a neutral umpire and through technological adaptation reduce the corrupting human interface in the process to the barest minimum. It is our hope that this bill will soon be signed into law once it achieves concurrence in the House of Representatives.

 

31. It is our hope that since we have adopted these level of direct engagement with you, which has borne so much fruit so far, I hopethen that our close and constructive relationship will continue to blossom and we will continue to gain from your insight and your observance of the spirit of these laws in the course of your legal work for the overall benefit of growing the Nigerian economy into a well-rounded and modern economy able to meet with the expectations and aspirations of the Nigeria of the 21st Century.

 

32. Let me therefore congratulate all lawyers and renew my call for us work even more closer to bring about an even better future for Nigeria.

 

I wish you successful conference.

God Bless Nigeria.

Thank you.

 

REMARK BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE STAKEHOLDERS ROUNDTABLE TO ADDRESS INCREASING INTEREST RATES IN NIGERIA.

REMARK BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, AT THE STAKEHOLDERS ROUNDTABLE TO ADDRESS INCREASING INTEREST RATES IN NIGERIA. TODAY TUESDAY THE 13TH JUNE 2017, 2PM AT THE SENATE CONFERENCE RM 022, SENATE NEW BUILDING.

 

Protocol:

 

1. It is a pleasure to be here with you today to discuss this very important national issue – our rising interest rate regime.

 

2. I am especially gladdened by the fact that you found time out of your busy schedule to answer to our call. Your being here today is heart-warming. It shows that you are bothered as we are about this issue and are willing to work with us to find solutions to it. It is also an indication that you share with us the vision of a more sustainable interest rate regime that enables our people to do business, create wealth and be empowered to follow their dreams. Thank you for coming.

 

3. It is no longer news that the 8th National Assembly has made the issue of the economy its number one legislative priority. Our decision is anchored on our belief that unless we expand opportunity for our people to create wealth and improve their livelihood we will continue to have significant challenge maintaining the peace and securing our union.

 

4. There is so much the 8th National Assembly is currently doing in this light. We are creating a new overarching framework for our infrastructure market by expanding the opportunity for private sector in the market. We are expanding access to finance and we are working on reviewing our market rules to meet international best practices. We are doing all of these through some of the bills we are passing into law. From the Nigerian Railway Bill, the Public Procurement Act AmendmentBill, the Nigerian Ports & Harbour Bill, the National Road Funds Bill, the National Transport Commission Bill, the National Inland Waterways Bill and the Federal Roads Bill, the Competition and Consumer Protection Bill, the Investment & Securities Act Amendment, the Companies and Allied Matters Act Amendment, the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Bill, the Independent Warehouse Regulatory Bill, the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act (Repeal & re-enactment) Bill, the Electronic Transactions Bill and the Nigerian Postal Commission Bill.

 

5. All these legislative actions we are taking is rooted in our believe that if we are to attract more investments, add more jobs in the market, promote business development and widen the range of possibilities and opportunities for our teeming youthful population, a demographic advantage we are yet to fully explore, we must create the right legal regulatory and institutional frameworks that is enabling in a free market.

 

6. As much as our people value and commend us for these new initiatives for growth, they are also worried and have complained to us bitterly about the impossible interest rate regime our businesses face today to survive. It is inconceivable that businesses anywhere can survive on a 25-30% interest rate regime. How can an investor anywhere survive on these rates? How can they create jobs and make returns? But this is the situation our businesses currently live with.

 

7. The Senate fully appreciates the economic complexities that determine interest rate regimes. It fully recognizes that high inflation times call for interest rate hikes and such other arguments. But unless businesses are able to survive, inflation and all other market conditions alone will not make the difference. We must as a matter of deliberate policy frame our monetary policy regime towards support for businesses otherwise our economy rescue mission may not be attained. It will be profoundly improbable to genuine businesses like agriculture, production and solid minerals to survive on interest rate regime of 30%.

 

8. A 25-30% interest rate regime is a yoke too hard to bearfor any real sector business. Our businesses need a breather. I am a firm believer that unless we are ready to think outside of the box and task ourselves to make sacrifices and take hard decisions with a view to the future we will not make much progress.

 

9. Let’s give a chance to our poultry and cassava farmers, welders, builders, our fashion designers, filmmakers, shoemakers, furniture companies and our other numerous small and medium sized industries a chance to stay alive and make a living for their families. These people; the SME’s are the reason we are gathered here. These entrepreneurs employ 88% of our work force. They have demanded and we should find a means to give them a new interest rate. If we don’t, we will all be poorer for it. If we are able to, we will all ultimately benefit.

 

10. I am confident that with the caliber of people gathered here, we will find a workable solution that will put a halt on the current rising interest rates regime and return profitability viability to Nigerian enterprises. This will be the beginning of a new era of prosperity and inclusive growth that we all yearn for. This is our only option if we are to build a virile private sector that will meet our developmental needs.

 

11. This is not a time for excuses but a time for solutions. Let’s make this happen.

 

12. God bless Nigeria.

 

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE 

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE HIS EXCELLENCY, SEN. DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, ON THE OCCASION OF A ONE DAY PUBLIC HEARING ORGANISED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY , HUMAN RIGHTS AND LEGAL MATTERS

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE HIS EXCELLENCY, SEN. DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, ON THE OCCASION OF A ONE DAY PUBLIC HEARING ORGANISED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY , HUMAN RIGHTS AND LEGAL MATTERS ON FOUR BILLS ON MONDAY 12TH JUNE 2017.

PROTOCOL;

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this public hearing organized by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

Today’s Public Hearing is significant for certain reasons one of which is that it heralds the beginning of the third session of the 8th Senate and secondly there are four completely different Bills from four different sponsors with its benefits and peculiarities to Nigerians of various social strata. The Bills are

I. National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation(Establishment etc) Bill, 2017 (SB 74) by Sen. Shehu Sani;

II. Revised Laws of the Federation Bill, 2017 (SB. 391) by Sen. David Umaru;

III. Emergency Powers Act, 1966 Bill, (SB 182) by Sen. Sen. John Owan Enoh;

 

IIII. Arbitration and Conciliation Act Cap. A18 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2017) (SB. 427) by Sen MonsuratOlajumoke Sunmonu.

 

The National Commission for Peace and Reconciliation Establishment Bill as proposed by the sponsor which seeks to establish an administrative mechanism for creating bonds, unity and reconciliation will go a long way in dousing pockets of tension and violence in different parts of the country as well as stemming the tide of disenchantment and secession against the Nigerian State.

 

Distinguished Senators and invited Stakeholders, the onus lies on us all to admit whether or not the establishment of a commission of this sort with accordant powers to grant amnesties for serious violations of Human rights rather than adopting punitive measures is the best way to ensure a peaceful coexistence among various ethnic groups and individuals living in Nigeria.

 

The second Bill for consideration is Revised Laws of the Federation Bill 2017 seeking to address major short falls associated with the review and codification of the Laws of the Federation. The primary purpose of this Bill is to provide a legal framework for the periodic review, codification and publication of Acts of the National Assembly and other subsidiary legislations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to prevent the duplication of laws and ensure ease of reference by members of the general public.

 

As a matter of fact, the absence of a timeframe for the conduct of the codification of our laws and the prevailing practice whereby the National Assembly is required at all times to pass a law to approve every compilation is uncoordinated and makes it very difficult for lawyers and constitutional researchers to keep tabs with the existing laws in operation. I sincerely hope that this platform provides us the opportunity to ensure we put a template that will guide the revision of the Laws of the Federation periodically.

 

The third Bill for consideration is the Emergency Powers Bill. The Emergency Powers Bill 2017 seeks to repeal the 1961 Act and provide for a legal framework for the declaration of a state of emergency in Nigeria. A state of emergency could result from insurgency, arson, civil unrest and unmanageable natural disasters in any part of Nigeria.

The Emergency powers Act No. 1 of 1961 which came into operation on the 30th of March 1961 has been utilized for the purpose of maintaining and securing, order and good government during the period of emergency in the country. The Act actually predates the 1963 Republican Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and it is not contained in the 1990 compilation of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and the current compilation of the 2004 laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

 

It must be clearly stated today that this Bill has nothing to do with removal of State Governors and appointment of Sole Administrators during a State of Emergency. Under the present constitutional arrangement as contained in section 188 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, an elected State Governor can only be removed or cease to hold office by impeachment, resignation, permanent incapacitation, death and by expiration of tenure. Any attempt to remove an elected State Governor under the guise of “declaration of state of emergency” will be undemocratic and unconstitutional.

 

Lastly, we will deliberate on a Bill seeking an amendment to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 2004. Currently, Arbitration has become the modern way of dispute resolution and it is important we tweak our own law to update our statutes in order not to be left behind by the international community. This Bill seeks to achieve this by making “interim awards” made by Arbitral panels immediately binding on parties as opposed to having to go through the court process for enforcement in the middle of arbitration thereby delaying the process of adjudication.

 

With increased potential for disputes arising from increased foreign and local investments in Nigeria, it is very important we make our litigation process less cumbersome and guarantee the swiftness of getting dispute resolution through arbitration and conciliation. I must commend the sponsors of these four Bills in the persons of Sen. Shehu Sani, Sen. David Umaru, Sen. John Owan Enoh and Sen. Monsurat Sunmonu for their passion towards these Bills. I also thank the Chairman, members and staff of the Senate Committee on Judiciary for their dedication and commitment in ensuring that this Public Hearing holds today. Taking into cognizance the divergent views expressed by Senators and the reactions the Bills elicited from members of the public, the Committee resolved to invite the public and concerned stakeholders, to give them the opportunity to make further inputs on the provisions of the proposed legislations.

Distinguished Senators and invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, I want to once again thank you for coming and wish you all a very fruitful deliberation.

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

 

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE.