Recession: N’Assembly to summon Buhari, others over state of economy

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President Muhammadu Buhari

NIYI ODEBODE, JOHN ALECHENU,OLUSOLA
FABIYI, SUNDAY ABORISADE and FRIDAY OLOKOR

Strong indications emerged on Saturday that the
leadership of both chambers of the National
Assembly might have agreed to invite President
Muhammadu Buhari to address a joint session of
the federal lawmakers whenever he returned to the
country.

One of our correspondents learnt that the decision
was the outcome of the meeting of the Senate and
House of Representatives principal officers, hosted
by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at his private
residence on Wednesday night.
One of the principal officers of the Senate, who
pleaded anonymity, told one of our correspondents
that the leadership of both chambers deliberated
extensively on the current economic situation in
the country and came up with some pragmatic
solutions.

The source said the meeting agreed that the
President should first be invited to tell the federal
parliamentarians the specific steps that his
administration is taking to take Nigeria out of
recession.
He said, “It was Speaker Yakubu Dogara, who led
the House of Representatives’ team to the meeting,
that suggested the idea and it was adopted by
leaders of both chambers.
“The president was asked to come and brief us on
the specific efforts he had taken with his economic
team to tackle the recession.”
He added that some principal officers of the Senate
also suggested that the National Assembly should
ask the President to reshuffle his cabinet with a
view to injecting new hands to come up with fresh
ideas on how to save the nation’s economy from
total collapse.
He added that while some called for the outright
sacking of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi
Adeosun, and her counterpart in the Budget and
Economic Planning, Mr. Udo Udoma, others
believed that a minor reshuffle of Buhari’s cabinet,
would perform magic.
The Senate leadership at the meeting were said to
have agreed to set up a committee that would
compile the recommendations of all the senators
that spoke during last week’s debate on the
economy and come up with a report.
Dogara was said to have assured his counterpart
in the Senate that the green chamber would
support whatever position taken by it, to move the
nation forward.
As a follow up to the meeting of the previous night,
Saraki at the plenary on Thursday, named a seven-
member committee to compile the major
suggestions raised by members and present a
report which will form part of its resolution on the
state of the economy.
A source in the senate, who craved anonymity,
explained that the report of the seven- member
adhoc committee would be considered at the
plenary on Tuesday while a formal resolution
would be passed.
He said, “What the Senate is looking at is the
possibility of putting up the nation’s oil assets for
sale to generate enough resources that could
revitalise the economy so that small and medium
scale enterprises can start functioning again.
“We are also looking at a total overhaul of Buhari’s
economic team with a view to bringing on board,
fresh hands that would inject new innovation
needed to galvanise the economy and take it out of
recession.
“It is true that President Buhari would be invited to
address the joint session of the National Assembly
on the economy. It would be an opportunity for
him to get feedback from Nigerians because all of
us are just coming from our constituencies and we
know what our people are going through.”
One of our correspondents learnt that the adhoc
committee held its inaugural sitting on Friday and
decided to complete its assignment and submit to
the Senate leadership on Monday.
A source in the panel said rather than
recommeding the sacking of Adeosun and Udoma,
“both ministers would be summoned to answer
question from members of the Senate at plenary.”
It was further gathered that the Senate leadership
would review the recommendations and present
them in form of resolution at Tuesday plenary.
A member of the House who craved anonymity,
said, “There is nothing unusual about calling Mr.
President, who is our party leader and the father of
the nation, to come and address us.
“In the US where we copied our type of democracy
from, the President gives the popular state-of-the-
nation address at intervals to re-assure citizens,
especially in times of difficulties.
“Assurances by the President before the people’s
representatives in the National Assembly will send
a strong message locally and internationally.”
When contacted, the Spokesman for the House of
Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, said, “The
House did not summon the President, the House is
only asking the President to consider addressing a
joint session. It is a suggestion.”
However, the embattled former Chairman of the
House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmunin
Jibrin, faulted the idea of asking the President to
come and address a joint session on the grounds
that it was initiated by Dogara.
But the Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum
Resources (Downstream), Kabir Marafa, said the
senate had the constitutional right to summon the
executive.
He said, “It is the constitutional duty of the Senate
to ask questions; to ask any minister questions
about his ministry and if a minister is found
wanting why not (give him the boot)?
“There are no sacred cows. There is nowhere it is
stated that once you are appointed a minister you
cannot be recommended for removal.”
Cut Jumbo pay, Afenifere, others tell lawmakers
Meanwhile, a pan-Yoruba socio-political group,
Afenifere, and some social rights associations have
advised the National Assembly members to reduce
their jumbo pay in view of the economic recession
in the country.
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka
Odumakin, and the associations made the call in
separate interviews with SUNDAY PUNCH on
Friday.
Odumakin stated, “The National Assembly
members should cut down their allowances and
salaries to show that they are ready to walk the
talk.
“The recession period calls for tax relief for the
poor to increase the marginal propensity to
consume, while the rich should pay more taxes
and that is where the Asokoro and Maitama houses
come in.”
On his part, a lawyer and civil rights activist, Ebun-
Olu Adegboruwa, said the National Assembly was
feeding fat on Nigerians.
He supported the debate on recession held by the
National Assembly, adding that Buhari should hold
a special presidential chat on the economy.
Adegboruwa stated, “As representatives of the
people, the legislators have a duty to debate and
proffer solutions for our liberation from poverty and
recession.
“The National Assembly is currently feeding fat on
Nigerians. Their salaries and allowances do not
reflect the current economic abyss of our people.
“As all charities must begin at home, the
legislators should first reduce their salaries and
allowances voluntarily, as exemplary leaders, in
order to instil confidence in our people to embrace
sacrifices.”
Also, the President of Campaign for Democracy,
Abdul Usman, said for the debate by the National
Assembly to be meaningful, former governors
among them should be ready to forfeit their
pensions.
Usman added that in spite of the economic
recession, some of the 21 senators, who were
former governors, were receiving salaries as
National Assembly members and at the same time
getting pensions.

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