We’ll Prioritise Security, Education, Economy, Reps Speaker Promises as Plenary Resumes

Speaker Abbas, in his address to members of the House, as members resumed from Easter and Sallah break, at the newly renovated chamber of the House.


The Speaker noted that the lawmakers would prioritise security, economy, and education, among others.


“We are painfully aware of the harrowing attacks that have specifically targeted our schools, where innocent children, especially girls, are abducted. Schools, which should be sanctuaries of learning and safety, have become targets for terrorists and kidnappers. These acts are not only heinous, but are direct attacks on the future of Nigeria and rob children of their right to education and secure childhood.


“The implications of these assaults stretch far beyond the immediate pain and disruption they cause. They sow fear in communities, discourage school attendance, and potentially stifle the education of a generation. We must not allow the ambitions of our children to be thwarted by fear,” he said.


The Speaker stated that “the House stands united with our Armed Forces” and would advocate for comprehensive strategies to safeguard our schools. This, he said, involved not only physical security measures such as fencing, security personnel, and surveillance technologies but also community-based strategies that involve local leaders in our security framework.


He added: “On our part, we will continue to ensure that our security agencies have the necessary tools and legislation to act effectively. To this end, we recommend the establishment of a dedicated fund specifically for school safety. This fund will support the implementation of advanced security measures and training of security personnel and communities on strategies for protecting educational environments.


“Mindful of the financial requirements, this model can be piloted in a few schools, especially those that are most vulnerable to such attacks.”


Speaker Abbas recalled that the House expedited the passage of legislation that enhances coordination between different security agencies, saying, “We will work with the Senate to ensure speedy consideration and onward transmission to the President for his assent.”


When finalised, the Speaker noted that the law would establish a clear framework for intelligence sharing and response coordination, which can significantly improve our preventive capabilities. He declared: “The House supports President Tinubu’s drive to establish a regional counter-terrorism centre for intelligence sharing, operational coordination, and capacity building throughout Africa.”


The Speaker stressed that the House would continuously dialogue with the security sector to identify legislative gaps hindering operational effectiveness. By understanding their needs directly, he said the House could craft laws that “empower rather than encumber.”


He said: “It is in this regard that we convened the first National Dialogue on State Policing. Various high-level stakeholders, including two former presidents, emphasised the need to review our policing structure to respond better to emerging threats, especially at the community level. The recommendations from the conversation have been forwarded to the Committee on Constitutional Alteration for further legislative action.


“Additionally, I have constituted the Steering Committee for the Legislative Security Summit with Members drawn from all the security-based committees of the House. The summit is scheduled to hold in the third quarter of the year and represents our commitment to continuous engagement with security sector actors and citizens. “



Speaker Abbas also said the House would recommend the establishment of a joint task force dedicated to address illegal mining and mineral theft, which would be coordinated between various government agencies such as the mining police to ensure a unified and robust response to these crimes.


“Additionally, the House will amend and enact legislation that will deter such activities and promote a transparent and sustainable mining sector. These legislative measures will include stricter licensing processes, enhanced penalties for non-compliance, and incentives for adopting best practices in environmental conservation,” he said.


On the economic front, the Speaker noted that the government had made significant strides toward improving the economy. “In the past months, the government has implemented several measures to stabilise the economy, enhance productivity, and boost investor confidence,” he said.


Speaker Abbas pointed out that targeted actions were being taken to alleviate the inflationary effects of these reforms on the most vulnerable. He noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had taken critical steps to tighten monetary policy and refocus on its core mandate of maintaining price stability. “I commend the Governor and his team for their pro-activeness and focus,” he said.


The Speaker added: “Going forward; however, there is a need to implement measures that strengthen the value of Naira in the long term. This includes implementing policies and initiatives focusing on value creation, multiplication, and expansion. One sure – even if difficult – way of achieving this is through optimising agricultural and industrial productivity and exploring our mineral wealth, as indicated above.


“Revitalising rural areas and enhancing rural connectivity can increase local production and stimulate the primary market.”


Speaker Abbas said despite the challenging economic outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had applauded recent improvements in revenue collection and enhanced oil production, which reached 1.65 million barrels in January, 2024, mainly due to enhanced security in combatting theft and vandalism.


Other positive measures taken by the government, according to him, include the launching of the Nigeria Consumer Credit Corporation which ensures that citizens can afford basic items without necessarily paying out of pocket as obtainable in advanced countries of the world.


He said: “The President’s approval of the Consumer Credit Scheme is significant as it empowers citizens to improve their quality of life by accessing goods and services immediately and paying for them over time in a responsible manner. This scheme supports essential purchases like homes, vehicles, education, and healthcare, which are crucial for maintaining stability and achieving personal aspirations.


“Only recently, the government commenced the implementation of temporary cash transfers to 15 million households. The release of grains, seeds, and fertilisers by the government has contributed to improving food security. Although the price of food items remains high, a better harvest in the half of the year is expected to contribute to a positive economic outlook as GDP growth for 2024 is projected to reach 3.2 per cent.


“Equally worth mentioning is the National Single Window initiative, launched by the President to modernise the country’s trade processes. The initiative will streamline government trade compliance via a digital platform and connect our ports, government agencies, and major stakeholders.”


Speaker Abbas also recalled that the President, on April 3, 2024, signed the revised Student Loans Repeal and Re-Enactment Bill 2024 into law, which created the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) and addressed the previous issues related to governance, the purpose of loans, eligibility of applicants, the application process, repayment terms, and loan recovery. He explained that the Act aims to ensure that economically disadvantaged Nigerians can access quality education and opportunities for skill development.


“Just two days ago, the President appointed an astute professional, Mr. Jim Ovia, CFR, as the Chairman of the Board of NELFUND. We look forward to the immediate and meticulous implementation of the scheme,” he said.


While stating that the House recognises and applauds these measures, which, in the interim, can address the impact of removing fuel and electricity subsidies, the Speaker said: “However, as noted in my keynote address at the House Conference on the Power Sector, wider consultation is required as Nigeria commences the implementation of the multi-tier electricity market.”


Speaker Abbas also noted that June 2024 marks a significant milestone: the 25th anniversary of Nigeria’s return to democracy and uninterrupted legislative governance.


“In celebration of this historic occasion, I am pleased to announce the inaugural House Open Week, scheduled for June 2024. This significant event marks a new chapter in our legislative process, designed to foster greater transparency, accountability, and civic engagement. The House Open Week will provide an exceptional opportunity for elected representatives to engage directly with the citizens we serve, discuss their concerns, and share insights into our legislative work,” he said.

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