Senate yesterday summoned the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to appear before it to explain the poor state of the economy and the continued fall of the naira in both the official and parallel markets.
The Senate also charged the Federal Government to step up efforts at diversifying the economy from oil export into an economy that depends on taxation, agriculture, manufacturing and solid minerals prospecting.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion entitled “The State of Economy: Naira Depreciation and Its Implications”, which was sponsored by Senator Nazif Suleiman (APC Bauchi North).
Suleiman observed that the foreign exchange needs of the various sectors of the economy are not at present made available because Nigeria’s commitments in the global economy are also not made available.
“The state of the Nigerian economy as it affects the growing rate of the depreciation of the naira is a very serious concern. The naira has depreciated in the last few months at a much faster rate than it had appreciated over the last two years.
“The cause of this depreciation is the consequence of the negative cash flow as a result of the downward trend of oil price, which is further worsened by speculations in the foreign exchange markets.
“The banking industry may be currently defaulting in the global economy, and that is sending a bad signal and image about the Nigerian economy. The ensuing speculation is resulting to a huge capital flight with its attendant inflationary consequences, which will affect an average Nigerian on the street.
“Illicit fund flows and money laundering going through Nigerian financial system contributes in weakling the value of the Naira, which has led to the recent decisions of the CBN to increase its vigilance to ensure that Nigerian banks are not used as conduit for illicit funds flow and money laundering in foreign currencies.
“The procedure for processing demand and supply of foreign exchange by the CBN be reviewed and various additional options considered to stem the precipitous depreciation of the Naira, and thereby discouraging speculators,” Suleiman said.
Supporting the motion, Senator Usman Bayero Nafada (APC Gombe North), said depreciation of the naira was due to pressure arising from expenditure on imported products.
He said that the amount of dollars stashed away by some people in their houses and farms also increased the pressure on the naira.
Also, Senator Olaka Nwogu (PDP Rivers South-East) observed that Nigeria’s dependence on only one source of revenue whose value has dropped by half is part of the problem, and therefore suggested for the creation of more industries in the country.
Nwogu accused 90 percent of those in the Senate as contributors to the problems and therefore urged them to begin the industrial revolution with their constituency projects.
He sought a legal framework that would compel the establishment of at least one industry in each senatorial zone.
Also, Senator Philip Aduda (PDP FCT) urged the APC-led federal government to put its house in order and appoint economy managers.
He also said that state governments should focus more on establishing industries to create jobs rather than awarding contracts with monies meant for salaries.
In his contribution, Senator Philip Gyunka (Nasarawa North) stressed the need for the senators to always support policies thatvwould encourage exportation of local goods time boost the economy and improve the living standards of the people.
Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, in his remarks, commended the mover of the motion, said that the Senate, and indeed all Nigerians, must contribute in the defence of the Naira against all other currencies.
“The naira is being subjected to speculations and the only way to defend it is to know that government policy makers are firm in the defence of the naira.
“It will not be easy because speculators are relentless, but if we give all the support and stay on course, our naira will indeed stabilise.
“Nobody would have believed that we could stop the importation of cement; I think we can do that for rice, palm oil, wheat, and other products that we can produce in Nigeria”, Saraki stressed.
The Senate president said that although some policies may seem to be adversely affecting Nigerians, all citizens should exercise patience, noting that good economic policies would be beneficial.
The Senate therefore resolved to summon the CBN governor to a meeting to seek solutions to the problems.
Meanwhile, Senators have unanimously rejected a prayer by a colleague for the reintroduction of toll gates on in the country.
Senator Abdulrahman Abubakar Gumel (Kogi East), while giving additional prayer to a motion on the collapse of road infrastructure in Nigeria, sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi West), called for the reintroduction of toll gates on the highways to raise funds for road maintenance.
He said:
“The reintroduction of toll gates on the roads is important. This is because the budget given to FERMA and the Federal Ministry of Works is not adequate. The revenue from the toll gates will help in maintaining federal roads.”
The lawmaker also called on the federal government to pay adequate attention to reconstruction and maintenance of railways to reduce pressure on roads.
But when his amendment was raised for adoption by Saraki, the senators unanimously kicked against it.
Similarly, the lawmakers kicked against the construction of additional lanes from Keffi-Abuja Road, which Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West) raised would help reduce traffic on the ever busy road that connect about 15 states with the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The Senate, however, urged the Federal Government to undertake immediate rehabilitation and construction of major dual-carriage highways across the country.
A motion to this effect by Melaye was co-sponsored by 90 other senators, who also charged the Federal Ministry of Works to explore ways to fund the projects.
The Upper House therefore directed its Ad-hoc Committee on Works to embark on the audit of all road projects across the country with a view to producing data for necessary legislative action.