Senate asks Buhari to dialogue with militants, rejects sale of national assets

*Senate chamber of Nigeria's national assembly.

*Senate chambers of Nigeria’s National Assembly.

29 September 2015, Abuja – The Senate, yesterday, moved against last week’s recommendation of the National Economic Council, NEC, which asked the Federal Government to sell the country’s national assets.

The Senate’s position came on a day the Federal Government said no final decision had been taken on the matter. NEC had recommended sale of the assets to raise capital to shore up foreign reserves and, by extension, bail out the country from the current economic recession.

The Senate’s decision is in line with recommendations of its ad-hoc committee set up to review its two-day debate, last week.

The committee in its report submitted at plenary, outrightly rejected government’s planned action, a decision which ran contrary to the position of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who had earlier backed government’s decision.

The Senate, in line with recommendation to that effect, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, prepare an Economic Stimulus Bill containing all the fiscal stimulus packages, investments and incentives designed to pull the country out of recession to the National Assembly for accelerated consideration and passage.

The committee in its recommendation of the sale of national assets which was, however, rejected, said: “Being a sensitive issue, it should be approached from a commitment to protecting the common patrimony of Nigerians by preventing the assets from falling into the hands of sharks, assets strippers and cannibalisers, while also guarding against the fuelling of further inequities in the society and polity.”

Other salient recommendations adopted by the Senate included urging the executive to ensure constant meeting of fiscal and monetary authorities for harmonisation of all policies, particularly lower interest rates for genuine investors in the real sector as well as medium and small scale farmers and processors.

Dialogue with militants

It also recommended that the government must engage in meaningful and inclusive dialogue with aggrieved Niger Delta militants to avoid escalation of unrest in the region and ensure protection of Nigeria’s oil and gas assets. This, it acknowledged, was to facilitate increase in oil production and boost revenue therefrom.

To this end, the recommendation said the President should, as a matter of urgency, appoint a Senior Special Assistant, who should lead a team to coordinate government’s engagement with all stakeholders in the region, specifying that the team should include senators from the zone.

The Senate also adopted the recommendation urging the President to reconstitute Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and all other critical agencies, to ensure they operate in accordance with enabling laws. To solve the age-long problem associated with saving for the rainy day by the Federal Government, the Senate adopted the recommendation seeking amendment of Section 162 of the Constitution to make it possible for the Federal Government to save money to that effect.

To ensure that the recommendations get to the President on time, the Senate also resolved that the report of all the 22-point recommendations should be personally delivered to the President by the Senate President. After adoption of the resolutions, the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye (APC, Osun Central) rose through Order 43 to emphasise that resolutions now adopted represented the corporate decision of the Senate, against individual submissions made by senators, last week, during the general debate.


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