12 January 2016, Abuja – House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara Tuesday said the global crash in oil prices is a wake up call for Nigeria to diversify from a mono-economy that relies only on revenue from oil for survival.
Dogara said this in his speech to welcome House members back from the two-week Christmas recess and the resumption of plenary.
The speaker said that the crashing prices of crude oil in the international market and the concomitant impact on the nation’s economy is a sad reminder of the collective failure over the years to diversify from a mono-product economy.
“It is a wake up call for walking the talk on diversification which has been our rethorics for decades and we have no excuse for letting this opportunity slip by again. I believe, dear colleagues, that this realization will shape our views and decisions as we consider the 2016 Appropriation Bill”, the speaker added.
While tasking his colleagues to expeditiously pass the 2016 Appropriation Bill into law, he reminded House members that so many Nigerians are hurting because of the downturn being experienced in the economy, especially the sufferings of construction workers, majority of whom Dogara said haven’t been paid for months and those laid off because of the inability of government to settle outstanding debts owed the firms.
The speaker therefore advised House members to be on the same page with the Buhari administration in tackling the rising unemployment in the country, asserting that “since job creation is one of the fundamental policies of the APC administration, we cannot treat job losses lightly.”
As true representatives of the people, we owe a duty to make haste and whether we make haste slowly or we slowly make haste, we must hasten those long nights of despair into a glorious morning for our citizens who hope to go back to work as soon as government pays the firms they were working for.
“We must therefore pass the 2016 budget which includes Mr. President’s proposals on job creation early, to restore confidence in existing obligations and the economy generally”.
In order to ensure an orderly and predictable budgeting system in Nigeria, the speaker disclosed that the House will seek to amend Sections 81(1) and 82 of the constitution to ensure that annual budgets are submitted three months before the end of every financial year, including reducing from six months to three months the period allowed for pre budget expenditure authorization by the president.
Also, Dogara said the recent monetary and fiscal policies introduced by the government aimed at preventing money laundering and protecting the naira have resulted in avoidable hiccups in international financial transactions with multifaceted counterproductive implications for both commerce, foreign investor promotion and diaspora Nigerians, including students.