Amidst the growing hardship being experienced in the land by rising prices of goods and services, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Tajudeen Abbas, on Thursday pleaded with Nigerians to be patient with the federal government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, saying that citizens would soon laugh with the various policies being put in place by the administration.

Addressing a World Press Conference at the National Assembly in Abuja, the Speaker stated that as the elected Representatives of Nigerians, the lawmakers were fully aware of the hardship being experienced by the populace and were doing everything possible to address the situation, along with the executive arm of the government

The Speaker who was accompanied by the Principal Officers and the Chairmen of the Committees of the House, disclosed that the House would propose enacting legislation to enable a federal government response to tackle food shortages, including emergency food, to cushion the hardship being experienced by the citizens.

According to him, “We are acutely aware of the rising security challenges affecting different parts of the country. As elected representatives, we acknowledge the pain and suffering of every family that has been a victim of brutal crimes and needless violence. Let it be known that your cries have not fallen on deaf ears, and your tears have not gone unseen.

” We stand in solidarity with every Nigerian affected and commit to deploying robust legislative measures to empower our security agencies, ensure justice, and restore peace and order in our communities.

While expressing concern to the House over the high rate of food inflation, he reiterated the House’s resolve to promote security so that farmers can feel safe returning to their farms.

According to him, “as representatives of the Nigerian people, we cannot pay lip service to the plight of the same individuals who elected us into office to protect their interests. It is our resolve to see that Nigerians, wherever they are, live their normal lives in peace and relative ease.

The Speaker commended the rapid and decisive response of the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to the issue of food security in the country.

According to him, ” the President and Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency Bola Ahmad Tinubu, has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving the security situation and enhancing the capability of the armed forces. On Tuesday this week, I attended the induction ceremony of the T-129 ATAK helicopter and the King Air 360i aircraft into our esteemed Air Force. The acquisition of these state-of-the-art aircraft clearly indicates the government’s dedication to investing in the security infrastructure of our nation. It reflects a proactive stance in adapting to the dynamic challenges of modern warfare and a commitment to providing our armed forces with the best tools to defend Nigeria and our people.

” You may recall that on November 8, 2023, the President signed the N2.176 trillion Supplementary Appropriation Act to strengthen Nigeria’s security architecture and address Nigeria’s critical infrastructure deficit, amongst other considerations. These investments, in the face of a global economic downturn and budgetary constraints, attest to the government’s determination to end insecurity in Nigeria.

” While recognising and commending the patriotic and courageous efforts of our security agencies, we must have the courage to effect changes where necessary. These are among the issues that the forthcoming Legislative Summit on Security will address. This summit, which comes up in a matter of weeks, will, among others, allow us to hear directly from the key stakeholders in the sector and come up with legislative measures to modernise our security system and improve its operational efficiency and effectiveness

He particularly referred to the 2023 Supplementary Budget, which provided a N200 billion palliative package, mainly for grains, seeds, agricultural inputs, and equipment for farmers, to buttress his assertion.

According to him, “This momentum has been sustained in the 2024 Budget, which has significantly improved budgetary allocations to all critical sectors of the economy, especially defence, healthcare, education, and infrastructure,” he said.

“In 2023, the President declared a state of emergency on food security, focusing on improving both availability and affordability. Some immediate measures approved the release of fertilisers and grains to farmers and households, particularly given the fallouts from the removal of fuel subsidies.

“Others include boosting the national strategic food reserve and introducing a price stabilisation mechanism, especially for critical food items. And just a few days ago, President Tinubu also constituted a special presidential committee headed by the Chief of Staff to take immediate steps to arrest the worsening food situation.

“We in the National Assembly have supported and will continue to support the government’s efforts in finding effective solutions to these challenges. For the first time in the history of the Nigerian legislature, the 10th House set up a Committee on Nutrition and Food Security with a mandate to strengthen the legislative framework for nutrition governance in Nigeria, advocate for the inclusion of nutrition in government priority programmes, and monitor resource allocation to nutrition in the annual budget estimates.”

“Only a few days ago, we engaged key economic and financial sector actors in the sectoral debates of the House. The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, his counterpart at the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, briefed the House on the country’s current economic crisis and immediate remedial measures to improve the situation. They were joined by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), his deputies, and the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

He reassured all Nigerians that the House would continue to prioritise funding for programmes and initiatives to alleviate hunger and enhance security. We are fully committed to supporting policies that will stimulate our economy, provide relief, and ensure relief is felt in every home.

He added that, in addition to promoting security so that farmers can feel safe returning to their farms, ” the House will support import and export policies that stabilise food prices and ensure an adequate supply of essential food items at affordable rates, especially for our constituents living in rural areas. We also propose enacting legislation to enable swift government response to tackle food shortages, including emergency food aid and support for affected populations.

Speaking on the unity and synergy between all arms of government, the speaker said, “As we navigate through these tumultuous times, the importance of unity and constructive engagement cannot be overstated. The synergy between the three arms of government—executive, legislative, and judiciary—is paramount. We must function not as isolated entities but as a cohesive unit with a common goal: the welfare and progress of our dear country. As declared in Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”.

” This cannot be achieved by one arm of government alone but by all of us working together for the common good. It also requires greater engagement with citizens, who have a duty to hold their elected representatives accountable and demand more government action.

“The disposition of the President to collaborate with the National Assembly while respecting our independence is remarkable and laudable. I equally commend key advisers and aides of the President for working tirelessly to address Nigeria’s multiple challenges. I wish to particularly note the contributions of the Chief of Staff to the President, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Sen. George Akume; the National Security Adviser (NSA), Malam Nuhu Ribadu; and all other political office holders and aides to the President for their tireless efforts to ensure that the government of Bola Ahmed Tinubu delivers on its promise to Nigerians and the 8-point agenda of the President.

The Speaker also spoke on the need for constructive Citizens-Government engagement for the betterment of the nation’s democracy

According to him, “In any vibrant democracy, the relationship between citizens and their government is symbiotic, characterised by active engagement, mutual trust, and shared accountability. Constructive citizen-government engagement is the cornerstone of democratic governance, facilitating transparency, responsiveness, and inclusive decision-making.

“As we mature in our democracy, it is imperative to cultivate a culture of meaningful interaction and collaboration between citizens and government institutions.

“For this reason, I call on every citizen to engage in positive and constructive criticism. Your voices and opinions are invaluable, providing the compass that guides our actions and policies. At this juncture, ladies and gentlemen of the press, as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, my colleagues and I invite Nigerians to engage critically with us on important national issues. In fact, we encourage and welcome criticisms, but these must be constructive and targeted at building national unity and cohesion and advancing development.

“However, while we encourage freedom of expression and constructive dialogue, we must also be wary of the dangers of fake news and campaigns of slander and defamation, especially against the President and senior government officials.

“There has been a rise in defamation campaigns on social media involving the deliberate dissemination of false and misleading information with the intent to harm the reputation of individuals or organisations. These campaigns often target political opponents, seeking to undermine their credibility, integrity, and public trust.

“The recent unjustified and baseless allegations against the Chief of Staff to the President, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, point to the danger of an unfettered and unaccountable social media. Such acts not only undermine the integrity of our democracy but also erode the fabric of our national unity. Yet, Femi is just one of millions of Nigerians who suffer cyberbullying and coordinated campaigns of defamation daily. Too many victims are not as powerful as him to defend themselves.

“Those of us who have worked with him for over a decade can attest to his patriotism and integrity. His willingness to voluntarily subject himself to investigation by all security and law enforcement agencies demonstrates his rectitude and honour.

“I urge the security agencies to work diligently and swiftly to investigate all matters he has raised in his letter to them and inform Nigerians of their findings. If not found guilty, these agencies must fish out those responsible for the character assassination and ensure they are brought before the law.”.

He called on every Nigerian, from the north to the south and from the east to the west, to join hands to support the government’s policies, be patient, and work together towards the common goal of a better, stronger, and more unified Nigeria.

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