…Pass 37 Bills in 12 Months

COVID-19: Reps seek radical measures to avert recession

By Tordue Salem – Abuja

The House of Representatives has passed 37 Bills for accent by President Muhammadu Buhari, as they called for drastic and creative measures to reform the depleting economy of the country.

The House is expected to adjourn for three weeks today, before its annual recess in July.

The Speaker made the House’ position known, while giving his scorecard of the last one year in his 9th House anniversary speech.

The Speaker said the Bills covered the procurement, business, Electricity etcetera.

” We have in our first year, passed thirty-seven (37) long-awaited and much-anticipated legislation including reforms of the Federal Government’s public procurement system, the Company and Allied Matters Act and the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act. We have proposed and passed legislation to achieve electric power sector reform, establish a process of presidential transition that ensures continuity in government and limits the possibility of political or constitutional crisis arising from anticipated or sudden shifts of presidential power”.

He said among the pieces of legislation treated by the House, within the time, covered the disabled, Industrialisation, job creation and communities in the country.

His words: “We heard the cries of those of our brothers and sister who being less able-bodied than others, have found their opportunities for advancement in education and professional prospects, curtailed and constrained. We passed on their behalf, the Physically Challenged (Empowerment) Bill, 2019 to promote accessibility and ensure that the barriers that stand in the way of people achieving their dreams no longer exist. We have delivered the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan Bill, and the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, both of which will place our country on the path to industrial self-sufficiency and economic growth that lifts people out of poverty, creates jobs that pay a living wage and ensures that more of our people can contribute to the continued development of communities across the nation”.

He, however, bemoaned the fate of those affected by the COVID-19 and the dilapidation in the Health Sector.

READ ALSO: Reps pass 2020 Revised Budget, raise estimates to N10.805trn

“When the deadly Coronavirus arrived on our shores, it exposed the structural weaknesses of our system. We did not foresee, nor where we prepared for the global devastation of the Covid-19 disease. We were not ready to fight an enemy of this nature, and our lack of preparation has caused a great deal of loss and despair across our nation. We are still at risk of more severe damage to our economy and our national security. All of this is in addition to the existing threat of disease and loss of lives at a scale we will not long forget. I pray for the ill and recovering, and I commit the dearly departed to a peaceful afterlife and ask for God’s grace on those they have left behind”, said he.

He also gave the House of Representatives kudos for “passing in one session, the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill as the first response by any arm of government to the economic issues that we foresaw would be the consequence of the arrival of this disease on our shores”,

Adding that “The Federal Government of Nigeria has long since begun to adopt and implement provisions of that Bill by granting deferrals on loan payments owed to federal Government institutions and lifting tax restrictions on the importation of essential medical goods needed in the fight against Covid-19 in the country.

“I also set up a Covid-19 Response Strategy Team (CRST) in my office to support the development and implementation of legislative interventions in response to the weaknesses that have been revealed by our management of the pandemic and the economic and social challenges arising therefrom”.

The Helmsman of the House also hailed his colleagues for sacrificing two months of their salaries to add to the pool of palliative funds for the poor in the country.

“In addition, members of the House contributed two months of our salaries to the Fund to fight Covid-19 in the country and inspired others to do the same across the country in whatever measure they could. We set up an AdHoc Committee to carry out robust and joined-up oversight of the Federal Government’s response to Covid-19. We advocated for and achieved greater accountability and equity in the allocation and distribution of palliatives to those of our citizens most in need of assistance”, he stated.

Besides, the Speaker stated that “We have initiated and are committed to a comprehensive overhaul of the statutory framework for managing Public Health emergencies in the country. Just this week, as part of the amendment of the 2020 Appropriation Act, we provided the sum of Four Billion Naira to provide for the welfare of doctors in Nigeria. This is of particular importance at this time when we are managing the public health crisis of Covid-19 in Nigeria”.

The House, also called for drastic reforms in the economy, to avert a pandemic-induced decline.

“Though much has been done, there is much yet left to do. Nobody in this room has ever witnessed a time such as this in all our lives. If any good will come from this crisis, it will be from the renewed recognition that we need quick and effective action in the immediate term, to unshackle our economy from the restrictions of law and regulation that have too long stood in the way of innovation and investment.

READ ALSO: Another round of recession looms in Nigeria

We are all now affirmative believers in the need for a robust social welfare system, built on accurate data, including a comprehensive national identity database that includes registration of births and deaths across the country.

The global upheaval, as a result of the killing of George Floyd and many others in the United States of America, is a stark warning to us that if we continue to ignore the failings of policing here at home, the moment of reckoning will not long be upon us. The alarming rate of assaults against women and children all over Nigeria calls for nothing short of a state of emergency to mobilise government resources, towards ending once and for all the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.

It was in recognition of these realities and more that we resolved to conduct a review of the Legislative Agenda of the House of Representatives as the first step towards designing a post-COVID plan to address the identified weakness of our nationhood”.

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