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The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday told President Muhammadu Buhari that there was much suffering across the country and that he should make solving the current economic hardship his priority.
Saraki spoke at the 2017 budget presentation by the President at a joint sitting of the National Assembly, in Abuja, stressing that nothing else mattered to the suffering Nigerians who had put their fates in the hands of those currently in government than justifying the confidence reposed on them.
According to him, “Mr. President, the feedback we get from our visits to our constituencies is that there is hardship in the land. We can see it. We can feel it. This recession, therefore, commands all of us as government to greater essence of urgency.
“We cannot work magic, we must continue to work the talk. Our people must see that the singular preoccupation of government is to search for solution for the current economic hardship and the commitment to ease their burden. They don’t want to know what political party you belong or the language you speak or the God you worship.
“They have trusted their fate in our hands and they need us now more than ever before to justify that trust they have reposed on us. The people of Nigeria will pardon us if we do something wrong but they will not forgive us if we do nothing.
“And that is why Mr. President, with the two chambers, have taken their position, whatever may be our differences, our opinions on the issues of the economy, we will work with one common purpose for this reason.
“I wish to reassure the President that the National Assembly will continue to seek opportunities to deepen this relationship because we are convinced that it is only by working together closely that our country can make the progress that we desire.
“It is in times like this, when we are challenged from all sides, that we need to develop new friendship, new relationships and cultivate more friends. No one can clap with one hand and expect to be heard. This is the time when compromise, engagement is too necessary for successful collaboration and corporation.
“This is why I am encouraged that Mr. President continues with his engagement plan across all sectors of stakeholders in the country particularly with our brothers in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country where stability is a part in our collective economic and security aspiration.
“Mr President you could remember in 2015, I made a clarion call while receiving your Excellency budget for that the 2016 budget needed to be bold and pragmatic to drive local production and promote made in Nigeria goods.
“Today permit me, your Excellency to reiterate this call, the only way we can cut down on our foreign exchange needs is to create jobs, and stimulate entrepreneurship in this country is to promote local manufacturing investment. “And this is why the National Assembly injected the made-in-Nigeria amendment into the Public procurement Act and we are expecting that with your leadership, we will achieve even much more in this area.
“It is the hope of the National Assembly that the 2017 budget will continue to proactively pursue this policy objective. Dr. Saraki said that the NASS has listed 11 Economic Reform Bills for passage and that the federal legislature would pass these Bills along the 2017 Appropriation Bill.
“We believe that the core elements of these Bills require that private capital be introduced into our economy and that “in the thinking of the 8th National Assembly, our economy can no longer rely on the public sector alone to get us out of recession. It is therefore critical that we mainstream private business and investment economy. “To achieve this we must make it much easier and efficient for people to invest and do business in our country.”