Nigerians always in a hurry to vilify NASS, Senate President laments
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has expressed concern that Nigerians were always in a hurry to pass judgement on the activities and actions of the federal lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly.
Senator Lawan made his displeasure known, on Tuesday, at an interactive session with journalists on the occasion of his 62nd birthday.
The Senator representing Yobe North senatorial district told newsmen that it was the efforts of the National Assembly to save the economy from recession that informed the speedy passage of 2020 budget and the 2021 budget.
While pleading with Nigerians to moderate their criticisms of the lawmakers, Senator Lawan maintained that the Parliament ensured that the fragile economy moved from its initial six per cent recession to a manageable 3.2 per cent.
He further expressed the confidence that there would be a massive injection of capital into the economy in the 2021 fiscal year.
He said: “Our activities in the ninth Senate have introduced good things into the economy. Our economy would have been worse if the budget 2020 was passed mid-2020 as the practice was.
“But we suffered a recession of 6 per cent, now we are in a recession of 3.2 per cent, and that is because we are still able to get the budget passed. And the recession, we have been told by an expert, will come to an end at the end of the first quarter of this year.
“We have extended the implementation period of the capital budget allocation to 31st March, and that we run simultaneously with the implementation of the 2021 budget in the first quarter.
“So there will be a massive injection of public fund into the economy, and that will bring the recession to an end.
“These are the kind of things, when we achieve, people should say this National assembly is working, not to wait until we make a mistake.
“Mistake will be made because we are a human being and we will not run away from criticisms. Genuine criticisms that will make us understand what we have done wrong are invited. But not to always assume that National Assembly has no value or too much of public fund are going into the National Assembly.”
Senator Lawan who restated the ninth National Assembly commitment to the early passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill gave the first quarter of the new year as a timeline for passage of the bill which he noted have suffered a long delay.
“When we resume, we will start work on PIB. That is one piece of legislation that not only Nigeria but the entire world is waiting for because that will change our economy. The money will start flowing.
“The PIB is like a demon because there are people both within and outside the country who will work against it. Passing the PIB is going to be the strength of our patriotism as lawmakers.
“In 2019, when we passed an amendment to the Deep Offshore Production Sharing Contract act, here in this house, we had been spending nights, we closed 2 or 3 am, working on the amendment. People didn’t want it to happen, because they stop it from happening for 20 years. You bring it (the amendment), they would come and do something and it will disappear.”
He said there had been oppositions to the amendment of the act but the leadership of the ninth Senate pressed on to get it passed.
“Some people said if we do this, they will leave this country because that is against some interests. But I said for once, please, allow us to do something for our country. I told them that the kind of things you do in this country, where else in the world will you be allowed to do it. So, we are going to do this amendment. They thought it was a joke. In a week, we finished the amendment. Mr President knew how important the amendment was. He was in London. That bill was flown to him. He signed on a Sunday. Just to give that amendment the validity that was needed.
For that singular act, that we lost billions of naira. Where we were supposed to be given $2 billion every year in the last 20 years, they were giving us $260 million. But from last year, after the amendment, it is $2 billion.
People didn’t celebrate us even though they knew what happened. That was what we did for our country. We could have gone the other way. We are proud of ourselves as members of the National Assembly that we have done something worthwhile for our country. That is what we intend to do with the PIB. We will pass the PIB but we will ensure that businesses here get a very competitive environment that they are able to get profit and stay and even invest more.”