Saraki: Senate’s Mandate this Session is Economy, Economy, Economy

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• Says we must get the nation out of recession in the shortest possible time

• To invite experts, economic management team

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

As the Senate resumes from its eight-week vacation today, the upper legislative chamber has resolved to devote today and tomorrow for intensive consideration of the current economic recession with a view to identifying sustainable solutions capable of assisting the executive to resolve the crisis.

THISDAY learnt on Monday that after the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, delivers his welcome address, which would be predicated mainly on the recession and the role expected to be played by the Senate in the recovery process, the Senate would dissolve into a closed-door session where senators would be addressed by an expert on the state of the recession and the way out.

The outcome of the expert’s briefing, it was further learnt, would set the tone for debate on the recession by senators.

Saraki had told journalists at his Ilorin, Kwara State home, during the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations, that the Senate upon resumption would devote more time to efforts to help the executive pull the economy out of recession.

He was said to have reiterated this resolve at the meeting of principal officers of the Senate, telling them that everything must be done to quickly revamp the economy and give Nigerians a new lease of life.

THISDAY also learnt that the volume of the presentation to the Senate by the expert would further determine the body of suggestions that the chamber would present to the executive as its contribution towards the efforts to resolve the crisis.

In preparation for the moves, the principal officers of the Senate held an exhaustive meeting yesterday afternoon on how they would set the agenda for their colleagues on efforts to bring the nation out of the economic doldrums.

After yesterday’s meeting of the principal officers, each of the two caucus in the chamber, also met later in the night with a view to ensuring that the recession is addressed from a patriotic point of view.

It was also learnt that the Senate president would lead the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus meeting while the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, would lead the PDP caucus into its own meeting.

However, the agenda for the caucuses’ meetings were predicated on the decision reached by the principal officers of the Senate on which both presiding officers sought to prevail on their colleagues not to use the economic crisis as an avenue for name calling or play blame game but rather to be handled by senators as statesmen until there is solution to the crisis.
A source who did not want to be named disclosed that the caucus meetings served as the fora to mobilise members and simultaneously enlist their adequate support for the recovery moves without bickering.

“The caucus will prepare the minds of members ahead of the plenary for a solution to the crisis. It is time to move Nigeria forward as a team. So, tomorrow, all that will be discussed will be Nigeria’s problem and the Senate must unite to proffer solution to Nigerian problem. That is why members have been told to go to their caucuses to mobilise themselves. It’s not the time to talk of APC or PDP,” he said.

Also speaking on the matter, Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Baba Garbai, said in the next two months, Senate’s activities would be dominated by the economic recession, adding that some of the discussions would be open to the general public while some would not.

He said: “We have also seen that people are actually going through a lot of hardship because of the various problems we are undergoing as a result of the economic recession in the country. The discussions, particularly within the next two months, in the Senate will be dominated by issues relating to the economy, especially how to rescue the economy out of the recession we are currently facing.”

According to him: “Tomorrow (today), we will actually have discussions bothering on recession. Some will be open to everybody in the plenary, and we will also have a close door session where we will hold discussions with some resource persons in relation to the recession.

“We have several items on our order paper for tomorrow (today) but the discussion on the recession will dominate the session. And most parts of the entire legislative session will be geared towards deliberations on how to bail out the economy from the current recession.”