From Fred Itua, Abuja
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday, informed visiting European Union (EU) delegation that the Red Chamber is working on some legislations aimed at pulling Nigeria out of recession.
Saraki also commended the EU for monitoring the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, which he said has set new standards for other African countries to emulate.
The Senate President told the EU delegation on Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group, led by Mr. Santiago Fisas, that lawmakers know that without a good economy that can sustain improved standard of living of ordinary citizens, the parliament could not be seen to have succeeded.
He said Senate, for example, has identified 11 economic recovery bills which can help create conducive environment for private investment to thrive, jobs creation, infrastructure to improve and the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to rise.
“We are focusing on the economy. We are working on how to continue to improve on economy. We are making all efforts to get us out of recession. We have our economy recovery plan. We are also looking at some priority bills, the infrastructure that will help enable private sector participation, which will bring in more money for government, in the social services sector, like education and health,” he said.
On the role the EU role played during the last general polls, Saraki noted that, “for the first time, we were able to transfer power, from one party to the other and in a peaceful manner. I think it has sent signal all over Africa. There was a peaceful transition in Ghana, as well. It was also done in The Gambia. It is clear that whatever we have done well in Nigeria, it has effect all over the continent.
“I want the EU to continue with the role you played and we thank God it went well. I commend you and hope it will encourage you to come back when next needed.
“Let me also thank the EU for picking our member in the National Assembly here as one of your partners.
“I know in achieving that, Nigeria sees it as a positive move and that you recognise us as an important partner.”
“I discussed widely with some of our colleagues in the House of Representatives. They talked about democracy and election issues and as a government, I am sure they might have mentioned it to you… we are at the final stage of reviewing some of the existing laws that guide our elections.
Earlier, leader of the delegation, Fisas said the visit was to explore better ways of enhancing the partnership between the EU and Nigeria’s parliament, particularly on how to deepen democracy, human rights, poverty alleviation and gender parity, civil society and media interaction and how to find solutions emanating thereof. thereof.
“We have learnt some lessons from the 2015 elections and we would see how we can improve on existing laws and see that new amendments when passed, will strengthen our democracy. Our focus is on the humanitarian crisis in the North East. We are also making an attempt on parliamentary actions on what we can do on gender issues.
“There has been stop and start but I know we will get there. We are addressing that also. So, in the area of partnership, I hope you have been discussing with some of our colleagues on framework with the area of focus we can look at, where there can be partnership and can also be support for legislators. I think that will help us because we are going towards a period of time where we are looking at some of our laws that have been existing for more than two three, four decades with a view to review them. Now and we have time to review someone them.
“With what is going on now, it is time we brought those laws in line with today’s economy. So, this will help you determine the kind of support the legislators needs to help them address the challenges ahead for the country.
“By and large, we talked about open parliament. For the first time, I think by next week, we are going to have a public hearing on the budget process to enable members of the public to have a say in the making of the Appropriation law. It has never happened before. We have not done this before. What we used to do is when we get the budget, we send it to Committees for defence. Now, we are engaging the public to improve the participation of the public in the budget processes,” Saraki explained.
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