Sunday the 11th of September will no doubt remained indelible in the minds of some residents of Kwara state for so many reasons including the fact that it marked the day the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, distributed empowerment materials worth N250 million to thousands of Kwarans to cushion the effect of the current economic hardship.
A total of 80 tricycle machines, 1,777 grinding machines, 664 sewing machines among other items were distributed to the beneficiaries.
The empowerment scheme, according to the senate president was designed to alleviate poverty and equip the less privilege to be economically self-reliant.
He said the gesture was in fulfilment of his electioneering campaign promise.
The senate president advised the beneficiaries to use the items judiciously so that it can uplift them economically.
The Director -General , Mandate Constituency office, Hon. Abdulwahab Issa, said beneficiaries of the scheme were selected across the 16 local government areas of the state .
He listed the beneficiaries to include women associations,taxi drivers association, Hausa groups,Igbo groups,Suru and Fulani groups.
Others according to him,included members of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT),Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Nigeria Association of Local Government Employees (NULGE ), and Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU).
“I warmly welcome you all to this important occasion which is another step by the President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki (CON), to empower our people and deliver dividends of democracy.
“First and foremost, I like to say that we at ABS feels good that we have our leader in our midst today and on behalf of myself, the Directors, Assistant Directors and the entire staff of mandate we welcome you specially and we are happy that it is during our time here that we have the Number three citizen of Nigeria”
“Today we are distributing 80 Keke NAPEP, 664 sewing Machines and 1,177 grinding machines as well as some other benefits worth N250m. We painstakingly spread it round all the Local Government and wards in Kwara Central as well as Kwara North and Kwara South Senatorial districts. Also special groups like the NURTW, RTEAN, NARTO, Okada and Tri-cycle riders, Non-Indigenes, Magajis and Alanguas, Emirate Association chairmen, IEDPU, the physically challenged, youth associations, joint associations, development associations, taxi drivers, musicians, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Zuru, NLC, NUT, NULGE, elders among others are all beneficiaries”
“I appeal to all beneficiaries to use the materials judiciously. On our part at mandate we shall endeavour to monitor how it is being utilized,” he stated.
Meanwhile, speaking at a forum tagged “#Ask the Senate President”, Saraki explained the economic situation of the country to a cross section of the people of the state.
Saraki who thanked Kwarans for their solidarity with him assured Nigerians that government at the centre was striving hard to revamp the nation’s ailing economy. He said that the All Progressives Congress (APC)- led government has no excuse not to fix the ailing economy.
He explained that no responsible leader would abandon his followers in time of distress to wallow in suffering as being experienced with the current economic recession in the country.
He warned that members of the national economy team must buckle up and be ready to proffer solutions to the economic challenges confronting the nation.
He said any of them not willing to offer personal sacrifice would have scores to settle with the senate.
Admonishing Nigerians to exercise patient,Saraki assured them that the senate under his leadership would not rest until the solution was found, declaring that “It is a challenge to fix the problems and improve the nation’s economy”.
“We have no excuse not to fix Nigeria economy but we need to be more patient on our agitation. It is important and of necessity to bring about solution. There is no responsible leader that will allow his people to suffer just because the economy is not doing well.
“Until we find solution to Nigeria’s problems, we will not rest. It is a challenge to improve the nation’s economy, and that is the primary reason people voted us into power. We can no longer engage in blame game, we are here to fix the problems. By the special grace of Almighty, we shall succeed”, Saraki said.
He expressed concern that Nigerians were in the habit of aiding the economy of other nations with unbridled patronage for foreign goods at the expense of the locally made products.
The senate president said the National Assembly had provided requisite legal frameworks to strengthen the campaign for patronage of made in Nigeria goods.
On the renewed hostility in the Niger Delta, Saraki stated that only dialogue would solve the crisis.
Explaining that the ruins in the region had grounded crude oil production from 2.2million barrels daily to 900,000 barrels, the senate president maintained that engaging the concerned people in the area in talks would arrest the situation, adding that “the same method was used during the time of the late President Umar Yar’Adua and it worked”.
Also, at a media briefing as part of activities marking Eid-el- Kabir in Ilorin, Saraki stated that Nigeria’s current economic recession is biting people across party lines, religious beliefs and socio-economic classes.
The Senate president said it was necessary for leaders across the country to shelve their differences in order to get the economy back on track.
He reiterated his call for a broader and bolder economic plan with input from both legislative and executive arms of government, the private sector, professional groups. All the groups, he said, must work together to put in place interventions that will create more jobs, strengthen the naira, bring more investment into the country, and attain fiscal responsibility.
The Senate President emphasised the need for Nigeria to rally its best economic minds both from within the country and in the diaspora in order to tackle the economic recession.
“What we all need to understand is that this recession is not only an APC problem or a PDP problem. This recession does not identify with anyone party. Hence, we need to tap into the expertise of our best economic minds – wherever they are around the world – to come up with plans that both the executive and the legislature can evaluate and implement” he said.
Saraki, who served as a Special Assistant to the President on Economic Matters during the Obasanjo administration, admitted that with rising costs amidst the economic recession, many Nigerians have found it hard to meet their financial obligations.
He reassured the public that once the Senate resumes its plenary in the next few days, the economy would be the major focus of the legislators.
“We are going to have an exhaustive and comprehensive debate on fixing the country’s economy when we resume next week. Already, all the economic priority bills are being analysed and collated so that we can hit the ground running when we resume. We understand the pains that Nigerians are feeling and we do not take this for granted.
“Additionally, the Senate intends to invite everybody involved in the management of the economy to address the Nigerian people through the parliament on the steps that are being taken to get us out of this mess. We fully intend to hold all those involved in the economic management of the country accountable”
“However, we will do so in a manner that is transparent and beneficial to the country as a whole”, he added.
The Senate President said it was equally important to begin to formulate and actualise both legislative frameworks and executive policies to minimise the effects of the recession on everyday Nigerians, stating that it was also important for the parliament to start asking questions that will lead to plausible solutions.
“We need to ascertain our actual level of borrowing and what effect the devaluation of the naira has had on our economy. Doing this will help us to understand where we are, so that we can determine where exactly we want to go from here.
“In every crisis, there is always an opportunity for positive reforms, in this regard, in order to solve this crisis, all hands must be on deck. Ideas should be sourced from all quarters. All arms of government, people of different political beliefs, from all socio-economic backgrounds and every part of Nigeria must work together at this time” he said.