Recession: Senate to meet economic experts •Seeks one voice to tackle crisis

The Senate, which today resumes plenary after a two month recess, has resolved to seek inputs from economic experts in the country in an attempt to help find ways to tackle Nigeria’s economic recession.

Chairman, Senate committee on Rules and Business, Senator Baba Gabai, who stated this on Monday, said that the Senators will be briefed at the plenary by economic experts at the Tuesday sitting.

The Senator also stated that the entire 2016/2017 legislative session would be devoted to seeking strategies that would help the country summon recession.

Reports in the Senate also confirmed that Senate President Bukola Saraki will also present a strongly worded speech on the economy at the Tuesday plenary.

A source close to the Senate President said that the nation’s number three citizen would proffer solutions and lead a debate of his colleagues on the way forward for the economy.

Saraki, in his speech, is expected to rally the senators in a bid to talk with one voice in the search for solutions to the current economic crisis.

It was learnt that following a meeting of the leadership of the Senate on Monday, some senators met across party lines to debate the resumption and the issue of the moment, the economy.

“After the speech by the Senate President, the Senate President will lead a debate among the senators on the way forward for the economy.

“The session will also be briefed by an economic expert on the options before the Nigerian government,” a source in the senate said.

While briefing newsmen on Monday, Senator Gabai said that every senator is expected to contribute to the debate on the economy, adding that the debate may last more than one plenary session.

He said: “ Every Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has gone to his/ her constituency during the annual recess which is coming to an end tomorrow (today).

“We have also seen that people are actually going through a lot of hardship because of the various problems we are undergoing as a result of the economic recession in the country.

“The discussions, particularly within the next two months in the Senate will be dominated by issues relating to economy, especially how to rescue the economy out of the recession we are currently facing.

This will dominate this legislative session.”

He further said: “we will actually have discussions bothering on recession. Some will be open to everybody in the plenary, and we will also have a close door session, where we will hold discussions with some resource persons in relation to the recession.

“Although we have several items in our order paper for tomorrow (today) but the discussion on the recession will dominate our meeting.

“And most part of the entire legislative session will be geared towards deliberations on how to bail out the economy from the current recession.”

While speaking on the proposed emergency powers being sought by President Muhammadu Buhari, the senator said: “As far as I am concerned, the issue of the President requesting for emergency powers is speculative because we have not received any communication to that effect.

; I just read it the way you read it in the newspapers. So, I cannot go into it because officially, we don’t know anything about it.

“We are also going to have bills that will go through first reading from the proposed order paper. We have first reading of House bills which have been sent to the Senate for concurrence.”

Meanwhile, a source in the senate on Monday, said that the Senate President, Dr Saraki, will dedicate his opening address to the state of Nigerian economy.

Extracts from a document obtained in the senate read: “The Senate President’s address will coincide with the return of the eighth Senate from its annual recess. The speech will announce that the Senate will focus the majority of its legislative days on solutions to tackling the recession and the timely passage of the 2017 federal budget.

“During our annual recess, myself and many of my colleagues in the Senate returned to our constituencies to witness the severe impact of the economic downturn on local communities,” the Senate President said. “The conditions on ground demand that we put forth our best efforts to get the economy moving and people back to work.”

“Since the commencement of the recess, Nigeria has officially fallen into recession and last Friday, Standard and Poors (S&P) downgraded Nigeria’s credit rating.  Additionally, inflation has caused the price of basic food items to skyrocket, severely impacting the availability of food in many households that live below the poverty line.”

“The Senate President believes the current economic crisis demands all elected leaders to put aside partisan interests to promote the well being of the nation.

“The process of reviving our economy must be an inclusive one. The best minds in government, business, and academia must be brought together to find solutions.”