Indications have finally emerged on why the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, last week Wednesday shunned the visit of the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, Ms. Christine Lagarde, to the National Assembly.
The deputy speaker, Hon. Yusuf Lasun as well as other principal officers of the House were also absent at the meeting.
Nigerian Pilot gathered that the speaker and other principal officers were “not properly informed” on the visit of the IMF boss.
An informed National Assembly source told our correspondent that “the practice has been if an important personality wants to visit the National Assembly (perhaps to see the Senate president and speaker at once), information is properly disseminated and on time so that everyone will be ready to welcome the august visitor.”
The source, however, said what happened last week was neither the fault of the speaker nor other principal officers as they were not properly informed about the visit of Ms. Lagarde, thus their absence at the meeting.
He further explained that although some important personalities would prefer to visit the Senate president as well as the speaker of the House of Representatives separately when they make such an official visit to the National Assembly.
It would be recalled that upon her visit to the National Assembly, the IMF boss expressed optimism that Nigeria could still achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth despite dwindling oil revenue by ensuring fiscal discipline, eliminating corruption and investing in infrastructure such as roads, power, healthcare and affordable housing.
She, therefore, urged the federal government to remove the fuel subsidy in order to equitably fast-track the economy.
According to her, “Efforts should be made to streamline the cost of government and improve efficiency of public service delivery across the federal and sub-national governments. Transfers and tax expenditures should be addressed. For example, continuing the move already begun by the government in the 2016 budget to eliminate resources allocated to fuel subsidies would allow more targeted spending, including on innovative social programs for the most needy.
“Indeed, fuel subsidies are hard to defend. Not only do they harm the planet, but they rarely help the poor. IMF research shows that more than 40 percent of fuel price subsidies in developing countries accrue to the richest 20 percent of households, while only 7 per cent of the benefits go to the poorest 20 per cent.
“Moreover, the experience here in Nigeria of administering fuel subsidies suggests that it is time for a change – think of the regular accusations of corruption and think of the many Nigerians who spend hours in queues trying to get gas so that they can go about their everyday business.”
On his part, Senate President Bukola Saraki urged the IMF to support Nigeria’s economic policies and help spread the message to the international community that the new government in the country was committed to fiscal discipline.
Saraki said the new government also has a supportive legislature which is devoted to making laws that would create conducive atmosphere for business to thrive.
He was of the view that at this critical period when the economy was affected by the oil prices, what Nigeria required from international institutions like the IMF was solid backing for its policies aimed at diversifying and modernising the economy, creating more jobs, rebuild the national infrastructure and attracting foreign direct investments.

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