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Senate to Investigate Recession as Saraki Calls for Collaboration on Economy

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Concerned by the worsening conditions of Nigerians as a result of the economic recession, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said tuesday in Ilorin that the Senate upon resumption next week, would probe the cause of the recession, stating that it was necessary to know why in spite of budgetary provisions, many more citizens have receded below poverty line.

“The Senate on resumption will respond to the economic crisis with a number of measures including getting managers of the economy to give account to the people, making tough recommendations to the president on needed changes, formulating necessary legislative framework for economic recovery and undertaking wide consultations across the private sector,” he told journalists at his residence during the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.

Worries about the ailing economy were shared also by a former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who offered some tips on the way out of the woods, saying effective handling of spiralling inflation, foreign exchange problem, fiscal deficit and debts control were key to resolving the current economic crisis.

Okonjo-Iweala who spoke on Aljazeera TV programme, The Stream, said focusing on the basic issues of macroeconomic stability was crucial to fixing the country’s economic challenges.

Saraki, in his intervention, explained why the legislative interrogation of the executive management of the economy had become necessary: “We need to know why the promises of external borrowing have not materialised, why devaluation has not helped to strengthen the naira, why inflow of foreign currency has continued to dry up and interest rate is still very high? Doing this will help us to understand where we are, so that we can determine where exactly we want to go from here.”

Wondering why all the measures aimed at cushioning the effect of the recession built into the 2016 budget had failed, he said the Senate would interact with the executive to identify where the problems were.

“The Senate intends to invite everybody involved in the management of the economy to address the Nigerian people through the parliament on the steps that are being taken to get us out of this mess. We fully intend to hold all those involved in the economic management of the country accountable. However, we will do so in a manner that is transparent and there will be no cover-ups. We will make tough recommendations as necessary,” he said.

Suggesting a holistic approach to the efforts to pull the economy out of recession, Saraki said it had become necessary for the executive arm of government to accept his earlier offer of collaboration with the legislature and the private sector to resolve the prevailing challenges.

“In every crisis, there is always an opportunity for positive reforms. In this regard, in order to solve this crisis, all hands must be on deck. Ideas should be sourced from all quarters. All arms of government, people of different political beliefs, from all socio-economic backgrounds and every part of Nigeria must work together at this time,” he said.

He said the Senate would take the lead in encouraging a collaborative approach to the nation’s economic revival by meeting with stakeholders in the private sector to ensure it collates a broad spectrum of opinions while formulating ideas to stimulate the economy.

Saraki assured Nigerians that the Senate would play its constitutional role of providing the legislative framework for the revival and growth of the economy in the interest of the people. “We are going to have an exhaustive and comprehensive debate on fixing the country’s economy when we resume next week. We understand the pains that Nigerians are feeling and we do not take this for granted,” he said.

The Senate president called on all political leaders to show concern about the sufferings of the ordinary people, adding that it was necessary for leaders to always empathise with the people.

He commended the people for their perseverance and understanding but pleaded with them to exercise patience, saying that the political leadership was genuinely concerned about their plight.

Saraki said: “The positive attitude demonstrated by our people during the Eid-el-Kabir festival gave me hope that we, in the leadership of the country, should move swiftly to tackle this economic crisis. We have no option and this we must do without delay. I commend and praise our people for their perseverance and understanding.”

Okonjo-Iweala Suggests the Way Forward

Former Finance Minister, Okonjo-Iweala, said focusing on the basic issues of macroeconomic stability was crucial to fixing the country’s economic challenges.

“If you don’t pay attention to the fundamentals of having a stable and good exchange rate policy, inflation under control, manageable fiscal deficit and debts, there will continue to be trouble in the economy,” she said.

Nigeria is facing its worst economic crisis in decades. The economy slipped into recession after contracting in the first two quarters of 2016.

Inflation jumped from 16.2 per cent in July to 17.1 per cent in August 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Since the introduction of the floating foreign exchange policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which freed the naira from a band of N197-N199 to the dollar, the currency has depreciated heavily on the parallel market.

Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank Managing Director, told Al Jazeera that she remained optimistic that solutions to the country’s economic decline could still be found.

Asked what would be her top three priorities to resolve the country’s current economic crisis if she had remained the finance minister, Okonjo-Iweala said she would prefer the current managers of the economy to talk about it.

“I have contributed the best I could to the country. It is still the most interesting country in the world. It is better to leave those who are managing now to say what they would do.

“All I can say is that there are solutions. Nigeria is a vibrant country. I love it so much. I know it is going to come out of this one way or another,” she said.

On if President Muhammadu Buhari were to ask her to come and help in resolving the country’s economic crisis, Okonjo-Iweala said: “One of the things you learn as you get wiser is to talk less as you grow older.
“I have spent my time contributing to the country. It will be better to leave those managing the economy to do what they know how to do.

“I served my country for seven years and it was a great honour. The second time was very tough, but it was still an honour. I am not the only person who is a repository of knowledge. There are other people who can equally try their hands in running the economy.”

Speaking on developments in Africa, Okonjo-Iweala expressed regrets that the economic gains recorded in Africa have started being eroded in the last two to three years.

“On the continent, we have seen a period when the economy was doing relatively well. It’s only in the last two to three years that things have started to go a bit south.”

She spoke about the job initiative of the Goodluck Jonathan government, YOU-WIN.
“The whole idea was to have a business plan competition. Beneficiaries were expected to create jobs to employ six people or more.

“Each created 9-10 jobs. The World Bank did an evaluation of it and found it good. I do believe the government should come in. We started a peer to peer mentoring. Now, one of the things I want to say is that creating employment is not only about struggles, it is about managing success,” she said.

On how the anti-corruption war was fought during her time in government, Okonjo-Iweala described it as “a very tough fight”.

“It was tough. I must thank my team. You don’t do it alone. I had the support of an economic team in the Ministry of Finance. At the end of the day, you need to have some principles,” she said.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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#EndSARS: Here is the Complete Speech of President Buhari

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The Complete Speech of President Muhammadu Buhari

Following the Lekki Massacre, president Muhammadu Buhari delivered the much-awaited speech. However, the speech failed to touch on the massacre or the people affected, infuriating millions of Nigerian youths that have committed so much to the struggle and lost so much.

Below is the complete speech.

“Fellow Nigerians,

It has become necessary for me to address you having heard from many concerned Nigerians and having concluded a meeting with all the Security Chiefs.

As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.

On approving the termination of SARS I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.

Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.

The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the Palace of a peace-maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors.

All these executed in the name of the ENDSARS protests. I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary.

Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.

The spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens, is a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour.

On the contrary, both our deeds and words have shown how committed this administration has been to the well being and welfare of citizens, even with the steadily dwindling revenues, and the added responsibilities and restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Government has put in place measures and initiatives principally targeted at youths, women and the most vulnerable groups in our society. These included our broad plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years; the creation of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths, and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund, through which government is:

a. paying 3-months salaries of the staff of 100,000 micro, small- and medium- enterprises
b. paying for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission
c. giving a grant of N30,000 to 100,000 artisans
d. guaranteeing market for the products of traders

These are in addition to many other initiatives such as:

a. Farmermoni,
b. Tradermoni,
c. Marketmoni,
d. N-Power,
e. N-Tech and
f. N-Agro.

No Nigerian Government in the past has methodically and seriously approached poverty-alleviation like we have done.

With regard to the welfare of police personnel, the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission has been directed to expedite action on the finalization of the new salary structure of members of the Nigeria Police Force.

The emoluments of other paramilitary services are also being reviewed upwards.

In order to underscore the importance of education in preparing youths for the future, this administration has come up with a new salary structure and other incentives for our teachers.

Let me at this point reaffirm the Federal Government’s commitment to preserving the unity of this country.

We will continue to improve good governance and our democratic process, including through sustained engagement.

We shall continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens, are protected.

But remember that government also has the obligation to protect lives and properties, as well as the right of citizens to go about their daily businesses freely and protected from acts of violence.

To our neighbours in particular, and members of the international community, many of whom have expressed concern about the ongoing development in Nigeria, we thank you and urge you all to seek to know all the facts available before taking a position or rushing to judgement and making hasty pronouncements.

In the circumstances, I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful, and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.

For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and the law and order situation. Under no circumstances will this be tolerated.

I therefore call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions.

Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding.

And I call on all Nigerians to go about their normal businesses, and enjoin security agencies to protect lives and properties of all law-abiding citizens without doing harm to those they are meant to protect.

Let me pay tribute to officers of the Nigeria Police Force who have tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.

I would like to thank those State Governors, traditional and religious leaders who have appealed for calm and restraint.

I also thank youth leaders who have restrained their followers from taking the law into their hands.

This government respects and will continue to respect all the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people, but it will not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of our nation.

Thank you all. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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Passport, Visa Trend as Nigerian Youths Look to Move Out En masse Following Disappointing Presidential Speech

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Passport and Visa Trend on Twitter Following Disappointing Presidential Speech

Nigerian youths have started looking for a way to exit the country following a disappointing Presidential speech after security operatives opened fire on peaceful protesters on October 20, 2020 at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, Nigeria.

The youths, who have been protesting and demanding an end to the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), had assembled at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020 to sustain their protest before the commencement of a 24-hour curfew declared by the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

However, shortly after they sang the national anthem, they were attacked by security operatives in one of the goriest scenes ever witnessed in the country. Despite calls for prosecution of perpetrators by both international and local civil rights organisations, the Federal Government has denied the occurrence even when Sanwo-Olu had earlier said forces beyond his control had made dark notes of history in the state.

This coupled with President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to acknowledge the killings and occurrence in his speech on Thursday, negatively affected the youths that for the first time went all out to demand a change in one voice.

Feeling dejected with the situation and most importantly hopeless about the future, they were forced to start seeking an exit from an uncertain future to a more predictable economy govern by sane people.

Since the failed presidential speech, Passport and Visa have been trending on Twitter as Nigerian youths now shift their focus to traveling out of Nigeria, a nation expected to plunge into the second economic recession in four years in the third quarter under President Muhammadu Buhari.

The inflation rate increased by 13.71 percent in September with the nation’s unemployment rate at 27.1 percent or 21.8 million amid rising economic uncertainties, weak foreign reserves and a currency that has been devalued twice this year.

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#EndSARS Protesters Kill as Security Operatives Open Fire at Lekki Toll Gate

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Security Operatives Open Fire on #EndSARS Protesters at Lekki Toll Gate

Nigerian security operatives deployed to Lekki Toll Gate following the announcement of a 24-hour curfew by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday, October 20, 2020.

According to numerous accounts of protesters, the army started shooting even before the curfew announced to commence by 9 pm on Tuesday.

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