If the lawmakers successfully pass the bills and things work according to the promise, Nigeria’s surging unemployment rate would be reduced.
Number of Nigerians without jobs rose for the seventh straight quarter to 13.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016 from 13.3 percent in the previous period. It was the highest level since 2009, as the number of unemployed rose by 5.2 percent to 11.2 million.
Unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for job as a percentage of the labour force. Current efforts at the National Assembly, if successful, will have reduced the number of the unemployed by more than 65 percent.
Lack of jobs averaged 9.52 percent from 2006 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 19.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 and a record low of 5.10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Saraki yesterday said the 11 economic bills now receiving accelerated consideration by the lawmakers would help to create 7.5 million jobs and reduce poverty by 16.4 per cent when they become laws.
In his welcome address to the senators on resumption from their Christmas and New Year recess, he urged the relevant committees to speed up work on the priority bills so that they could be passed and submitted to the executive alongside the 2017 budget.
By prioritising the creation of jobs, the Senate has identified a major challenge facing the nation. Most other challenges like insecurity; poor choices by the electorate during elections and even lack of educational opportunities are tied to the economic circumstances of the majority of citizens.
Saraki also stated that the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) would be debated and passed this week to pave the way for the consideration of the 2017 Appropriation Bill, which he said would be debated next week.
The Senate president urged all heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) to ensure a prompt submission of their annual budgets within the current budget cycle or risk waiting for the next fiscal cycle.
According to Saraki, “The average annual growth in jobs is estimated at approximately 7.55 million additional employments as well as an average of 16.42 per cent reduction in Nigeria’s poverty rate.
“Over the projected five-year period, it is suggested that the reforms, which these bills will engender, may add an average of N3.76 trillion to national incomes, (National Disposable Income was N85.62 trillion in 2014), equivalent to 4.39 per cent of 2014 figures.
He condemned the killings in southern Kaduna and said that the Senate would carry out a thorough investigation to unravel the issues and advise the executive appropriately.
Saraki stressed the need for the National Assembly to pursue and conclude the ongoing constitutional amendment. He said the Senate would henceforth not spare any organisation that tramples on rights of consumers in the country, adding that the “current situation where consumers’ rights are violated and treated with indignity must stop.”
On the power sector, Saraki said: “There had been errors in the privatisation process and the model by which the power sector is being operated—whether at generation or distribution—will never take us where we need to be.
Also yesterday, the Senate kicked against the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja by the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Aviation.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo West) and co-sponsored by five others, the Upper Legislative Chamber summoned the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Muhammad Bello.
Others invited include the Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, officials of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), as well as other stakeholders in the aviation sector.