We, members of the Unity Forum of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria welcome all Nigerians and all members of the National Assembly from the Eid-el-Kabir holiday and the Summer Recess. We further wish to add our voice in support of the initiatives and the recently unveiled policies of the Buhari administration and our Party, the APC, towards pulling the nation out of the current economic recession and security challenges. On this we are on the same page with the Nigerian Governors Forum and the recently concluded Economic Summit.
We shall always tow the path of propriety and national unity by rendering committed support to our Party and Government by having faith in their capacity to pull the nation out of its current economic and social crises. We must see through and go beyond the cacophony of negative narratives designed by some misguided publicists, our opponents and traducers to misinform the public about the performance of the government and our party, the APC, in the last one year and four months we had been in office.
Today is not the time to regurgitate the positions of the cynics or ruminate on the perilous state of the nation at the point of our takeover of the reins of government on 29th May, 2015. We simply want our discerning compatriots to appreciate what the government has achieved since it came into office under our CHANGE mantra.
The APC campaigned on a platform with three interlocking objectives, namely; securing the country; fighting corruption, and; rebuilding the economy. We should therefore be judged by the extent to which the government has moved in the direction of achieving those objectives. Any judgement of performance that does not tally with these genuine campaign promises is suspect and fraudulent.
Boko Haram has been utterly degraded and reduced to roving bands of violent criminals facing imminent extinction; millions have been freed from the menace of the misguided sect and its adherents; today we are working assiduously to ensure the welfare of the internally displaced people and provide for their safe return to their respective towns and villages to pick up with their lives and move on; Niger Delta is stabilising; cattle and livestock rustlers and armed herdsmen are being routed; armed robbers and kidnappers are daily being exposed, arrested and prosecuted. The rate at which this is taking place has never been witnessed in the recent history of the country. Unlike the situation before the change, one can now travel across the length and breadth of this country free of ubiquitous check points and fear of the unknown. Consequently we commend our security forces for their hard work and sacrifice in their valiant effort to secure the nation from violent criminals and extremists. We further wish to commend the government on all the efforts it has so far made both open and clandestine to secure the release of the Chibok girls. We are confident that very soon their ordeal shall come to an end.
The fight against corruption, which is a national security priority, is relentless and ongoing. We are all witnesses to the mind boggling revelations of how our common patrimony was looted and our national development initiatives strangled by unscrupulous officials, politicians and their business associates. Pursuant to the commitment of this administration to constitutionalism and the rule of law, many cases are currently before the nation’s judiciary, and many are to follow after conclusive investigations by the law enforcement and anti graft agencies. Predators and crooks stealing the future of our country are busy fighting back through several schemes of subterfuge, misinformation and character assassination. In this, we are determined that they will not succeed. We advice them to turn a new leaf and seek legitimate business opportunities. We further urge our colleagues in the National Assembly irrespective of party affiliation to render full support to any legislative initiative from the Executive that is designed to fast track the fight against corruption and impunity.
The old economy and its paradigmatic assumptions are dead, thanks to the collapse of inscrutable oil revenue that undermined the unsustainable consumption habits of our elites and their retainers. An economy built around the export of oil and gas and the importation of every other thing including food and refined petroleum products cannot last in a volatile and competitive world. An economic model based on mass consumption that de-industrialised the nation and denied employment to the mass of our people, turning all of us into mass consumers and purveyors of foreign products, is inappropriate for contemporary Nigeria. As petroleum revenues dwindle from about $110 per barrel to as low as $30 per barrel, the economy, like most of the oil dependent economies, with no savings for the rainy day, entered into a recession. The party is over. Now is the time for realism. A time for building a productive, self-reliant and prosperous economy that puts our people back to work. The agenda of our APC government is to diversify and reconstruct our economy around the production and manufacturing of goods and services for domestic consumption and export and for the employment of our vast population of idle youths.
This agenda of economic reconstruction through diversification and reflation of the economy is the surest path out of the current recession and into a new era of sustainability and prosperity. The journey will not be easy but the objectives are clear and attainable. The first objective was to pay attention to the promotion of Agriculture, solid minerals prospecting and mining and support for investment in domestic manufacturing, construction and commerce. The second strategy was to pursue an expansionary public spending programme directed at rebuilding our infrastructure in the area of roads, railways, power, housing and associated enterprises. In order to remain people-focussed, education and health were given appropriate priority. Support for the needy and downtrodden was envisaged in a programme of providing safety net for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of our people.
All these are captured and are being implemented in our 2016 Budget. Since May 2016 when the budget implementation started, the Government had released nearly N800 billion out the N1.8 trillion earmarked for capital spending. In addition to this the Government will soon place before the National Assembly foreign borrowing programme from the World Bank, African Development Bank, China Export-Import Bank, etc. all geared towards investment in the nation’s infrastructure.
We therefore want to seize this opportunity to call on all Nigerians to set partisan considerations aside and support this process of CHANGE for a greater future and a prosperous nation. To this end, we call on our colleagues in the National Assembly to support Mr. President on any initiative that he may require to stabilise the economy and fast track the implementation of policies designed to advance economic integration and reconstruction, social welfare and accelerated growth of the economy to deliver the country out of the current recession in the shortest possible frame of time.
Thank you and God bless us all.
SENATE UNITY FORUM