@SpeakerDogara Opens Commencement Of Sectoral Debates On Nigeria’s Economy Full Speech
May I warmly welcome you all to the commencement of Sectoral Debates by the House of Representatives on very important aspects of the Nigerian economy. I particularly welcome all Honourable Ministers and Heads of Agencies under their purview to the House.
2. This event is a fulfillment of one of the cardinal commitments we made in our Legislative Agenda at the beginning of the 8th House of Representatives. We had committed ourselves in our Legislative Agenda in Paragraph 7(ii) as follows:
“(ii.) Sectoral Debates
The 8th House will introduce sectoral debates on various aspects of Nigerian economy as part of its legislative initiative to address national problems. These sectoral debates will lead to the crafting of new laws or amendment to existing ones or generate recommendations on how to address the specific problem in question.
The House will designate specific legislative sitting days or weeks in its calendar specifically for discussion on various problems facing the nation. Such identified themes, sectors, areas or problems include employment and job creation, Health, Education and Social Services; Women, Youths and Children concerns; Power/Energy Sector, Oil and Gas, Science and Technology; Commerce and Industry; Transportation; Telecommunications; Agriculture; Mining; Manufacturing; Diversification of the Economy, Finance, Corruption, Security Matters, Infrastructure and other initiatives of urgent national importance”.
Modalities for carrying out the sectoral debates will be as approved by the House.”
3. Indeed, the Standing Orders of the House also provides in Order XVI, Rule 3 (New Rule), that:
“The House may engage in sectoral debates on issues of national importance as may be directed by the House or the Speaker.”
4. The first set of debates has been scheduled to take place from 3rd May to 5th May, 2016 on “Diversification of the Economy”. The Honourable Ministers of different Ministries concerned with this topic have been invited to present the perspectives of the executive branch, on the diversification of the economy from the standpoint of their different Ministries. We are starting with the following:
Hon. Minister of information, Culture and Tourism – 3rd May, 2016 – 11am
Hon. Minister of Agriculture – 4th May, 2016 – 11am
Hon. Minister of Finance – 4th May, 2016 – 1pm
Hon. Minister of Solid Minerals – 5th May, 2016 – 11am
5. With the fall in crude oil prices Nigeria really has no choice but to stop paying lip service to the urgent need for diversification of sources of revenue for Nigeria. The acute scarcity of foreign exchange, power supply challenges, falling GDP, fuel scarcity are some of the current matters of urgent national importance to be fixed. It is our belief that Nigeria possesses the human and material resources required to successfully transform our economy and earn the needed foreign exchange for Nigeria. It is time for Nigeria to develop and transform into a knowledge – based economy. Indeed ICT, Agriculture, Solid Minerals, Culture, Tourism and Entertainment; Trade, investment and manufacturing; Taxation and finance policies; science and technology; efficient Infrastructure such as power, transportation, etc have huge roles to play in the diversification of the Nigerian economy.
6. Other themes to be explored in the course of these Sectoral Debates, after diversification of the economy, include Unemployment and Job Creation; Infrastructural Development; Power, Energy and Gas; Anti-Corruption; Accountability and Transparency in Government; Security Matters etc.
7. After presentation by the relevant Ministers, Hon. Members are expected to ask the ministers questions and seek clarifications on issues. The House will schedule another day for members to thoroughly debate the issues and contribute their views at plenary.
8. These Sectoral Debates are necessitated by the compelling need for stakeholders, particularly the executive and Legislature to engage in debates/ dialogues towards finding sustainable policy strategies and legislation for quick recovery of the economy. The broad objective of the Sectoral Debates, therefore, is to deepen the engagement of Honourable members and the executive in national development policy issues and to promote the enactment of appropriate laws to enhance Nigeria’s economic growth and development. The specific objectives include to:
• providing information on specific policies, programmes and activities of the executive arm of government on specific issues;
• better understand the current development challenges in critical sectors in the economy;
• identify critical success factors for each of the sectors;
• identify and enact relevant legislation or correct or amend defects in existing laws that would support development initiatives; and,
• develop effective implementation strategies and appropriate oversight mechanisms.
9. The expected outcomes of the Sectoral Debate and dialogue series include:
i. Robust discussions on the appropriate role of the Legislature in achieving economic development and transformation.
ii. Recommendations on each of the topics of the debate/ dialogue, e.g. diversification of the economy; or unemployment and job creation; or security,
iii. How the Legislature can strengthen its role in oversight of the executive branch to achieve rapid economic growth and transformation, going forward.
10. This innovation is perhaps the first time the legislature in Nigeria is devoting specific legislative time to undertake debates on particular sectors of the economy. The clear legislative purpose of this effort is to contribute our quota in the search for a new economy for a new Nigeria. We expect as I have said, that these debates would help us to craft new laws, lead to better oversight processes and change the way we do things in Nigeria. It is our firm conviction that there is no better way to help deliver the change that our people yearn for than by speaking to those aspirations and insisting that we walk the talk.
11. I wish us all, successful deliberations and may God crown our efforts with success. ?