The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas has called on the legislative arm to intensify effort in addressing security challenges currently faced in the country.
Abbas also said that despite numerous successes recorded by security forces, security still remains a huge concern in the country.
Abbas stated these in his opening remark during the resumption of the House after its recess in Abuja.
According to Abbas, the country is also challenged on several economic fronts ranging from cost of living crisis occasioned by high cost of energy, cost of food which is skyrocketing daily, lack of livable wages, the negative effects of the unpredictable and fluctuating foreign exchange rates among others.
He said “I need not remind you of the enormous challenges confronting our nation at this time. They are challenges that will engage our attention in the coming days and months. National Security remains precarious even in the face of numerous successes recorded by our gallant security personnel.
“Only a few days ago, the nation was rocked by the gruesome murder of a joint team of security personnel in Ehime Mbano of Imo State. A similar sad incident happened in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State when scores of soldiers were ambushed and gruesomely murdered by terrorists.
“Sadly, some female students of the Federal University, Gusau were abducted by terrorists while there were reports of travelers being kidnapped along the Opi-Enugu Road. 16. Furthermore, Superintendent Okpolonwo Agbashim, Divisional Police Officer in Ahoada Local Government Area of Rivers State was brutally murdered by deadly cultists.
“In Zaria, Kaduna State, the Central Mosque collapsed, resulting in fatalities while residents of Trade More Estate in Abuja suffered extensive losses owing to a devastating perennial flood. There was equally distressing reports of attacks in communities in Plateau State. These are just a few examples of what happened as I believe some of you may have one experience or the other.
“While we mourn the loss of fellow citizens who had to pay the supreme price in the line of duty, we must condemn these attacks on the state and citizens in strongest terms. However, our best response will be the deployment of our legislative powers and instruments to ensure the security of life and property across the country.
“Honourable Colleagues, our economic challenges remain as daunting as they were before the recess. The country is challenged on several economic fronts: cost of living crisis occasioned by high cost of energy, cost of food is skyrocketing daily, lack of livable wages, the negative effects of the unpredictable and fluctuating foreign exchange rates, a disappearing middle class and a host of other issues.
“When people are hungry and despondent, what is needed is a leadership with a clear vision, a leadership that on daily basis, demonstrates its commitment and capacity to tackle the challenges at hand; a leadership that should be innovative in proffering short and long term solutions. That is what Nigerians need at this time and as Representatives of the people, we must rise up to the occasion.
The Speaker further urged his colleagues to prioritize the needs of their constituents, adding that they must remain steadfast in their commitment to promoting good governance, ensuring social justice, and fostering economic growth.
“Our decisions should be guided by a deep understanding of the issues at hand and a genuine desire to improve the lives of those we represent.
Speaking on the current economic hardship, the Speaker said while the executive arm of government is engaging the citizens and trying to work out strategies to tackle the hardship in the country, their legislative actions must therefore be dictated by a clear robust vision aimed at supporting the Executive in restoring citizens on the path of prosperity.
He said the House must deploy the necessary legislative instruments to create jobs, ensure payment of living wages in the civil service, pull Nigerians out of poverty, address the prevailing infrastructure deficit, rid the country of crippling insurgency; ensure the security of lives and property and affordable functional education so that no child is left behind.
He said on account of these economic challenges, the organized labour under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) seems to have lost patience with the painstaking effort of the government to plan and provide sustainable minimum wage and palliatives to citizens, adding that the organized labour it appears would embark on a nationwide strike by this midnight following the expiration of a 21 days ultimatum issued to government.
“As the peoples’ representatives, we feel and equally share in the pains of our people at these very difficult times. 21. However, I would like to appeal to the Nigerian Labour Congress to consider the various actions being taken by the Federal Government to alleviate the current hardship faced by Nigerians.
“As promised earlier, this House remains committed to getting a survival wage to all Nigerian workers. The 10th House had assured Nigerians that we would be interfacing between the organized labour and the government to quickly work out a realistic new national minimum wage and such other palliatives to enable citizens cope with the economic impact of fuel subsidy removal, the downward fall of the naira to the dollar, skyrocketing cost of food and general high cost of living in the country.
“It is in our considered opinion that embarking on a nationwide strike at this point will only aggravate an already bad situation. I therefore urge the leadership of Labour Unions to give us the benefit of doubt and suspend any planned strike action while we engage the executive.
Speaking further on some of the gains of President Tinubu in recent times, Abbas said it has not been entirely woes and gloom for the country as the Federal government have been presented with opportunities and prospects to turn the tide around.
“Only recently, His Excellency President Ahmed Tinubu recorded a huge diplomatic and economic breakthrough with the United Arab Emirates which would see the resumption of issuance of visa to Nigerians by the UAE and the return of Emirates Airlines to Nigerian skies.
“We equally recorded some major economic agreements in India just as we had a productive outing at the recently concluded 78 General Assembly of the United Nations.
He further explained that in the coming days, the executive arm of government is expected to present a 2023 Supplementary Appropriation Bill as well as the 2024 Appropriation Bill to the House.
“It is expected that the time to consider these Bills will be short, but we must roll-up our sleeves and get to work immediately and ensure the speedy consideration of the Bills that will encapsulate the yearnings of the people.
“While we will maintain the tradition established by the 9th House in terms of speedy consideration of the appropriation bills, we must diligently consider the bills to ensure that they meet the needs of our constituents.
“We have to put in extra work hours to ensure that the budget is passed in good time to enable its implementation from the first day of the 2024. 25. Our nation and indeed this 10th House of the People does not have the luxury of time in the face of profound national challenges. We must therefore do everything within our powers to champion causes towards addressing the yearnings of our people, ”he added.