November 07, 2017 3.50pm/ SENATE
President, on behalf of my colleagues, Distinguished Senators of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria and Honourable Members of the House of Representatives, I
welcome you and members of your Executive team to this joint session of the
What a delight it is to see you looking so well and rejuvenated, Mr. President.
We are most grateful to God for your revived state of health in this period of
national recovery, and we pray it continues. Let me use this opportunity to
thank all those Members of the National Assembly that put the country first and
resisted the urge to play politics during Mr. President’s time away.
It is pleasing to note that the budget is being presented earlier than
December. This is a welcome development.
I must commend Mr. President, the Economic Management Team, my Distinguished
colleagues and Honourable members of the House of Representatives as well as
all Nigerians, for working together to make the necessary sacrifices to get the
economy out of recession. Without doubt, this recovery benefitted from greater
policy coordination, prioritization and passage of economic reform bills, but
more importantly, the resilience of the Nigerian people. Having said that, it
is pertinent to note that the implementation of the 2018 Budget – how it is
implemented - will be a defining element of this Administration. We must
therefore continue to work together to steady the ship of this recovery.
As the country gradually recovers, it is important to reset the fundamentals
that drive our economy – so we do not slide back into recession. We must
reassess the relationship between oil and our economy. Oil prices are gradually
inching up, but that is no reason for complacency in our diversification drive.
We must grow our economy away from oil - as well as the need to increase
non-oil revenue generation and collection.
Revenue from taxes as well as independent revenues from State Owned Enterprises
must be taken seriously. If the budget is to be funded, we cannot afford to
turn a blind eye to revenue under-performance. While there is a need to review
extant laws guiding the operation of some Government enterprises, I would urge
for more determined effort on the part of the Executive, to plug leakages. This
sector alone accounts for over 40 trillion naira in valuation, of which less
than 400 billion naira is remitted as revenue to the Consolidated Federation
Account. This is not acceptable. We need to vigorously address this area.
The budgets of parastatals and agencies are meant to be submitted with this
budget presentation, as stipulated by the constitution. We must work to ensure
that these are passed by the end of the year, and sanction those parastatals
and agencies that fail to submit their budget along with the 2018 budget, and
deny access to capital expenditure unless budget is passed.
Further to the area of increasing independent revenue, there is the need to
review agreements that government has signed with some private sector service
providers. Many of these agreements are biased, and clearly, not in the
interest of the country.
We appreciate the need to spend, Mr. President. However, we must ensure that
our borrowing is targeted at productive projects that will stimulate the
economy. We must ensure real value-for-money in projects funded by borrowing,
and make doubly sure that the projects are not overpriced.
To ensure consistency in government’s economic programmes and tax policies, we
will be requiring that the submission of the 2018 Budget - and budget
submissions going forward - be accompanied by a Finance Bill. This bill - which
should clearly detail the imposition, alteration or regulation of taxes such as
the proposed tax on luxury items and excise taxes, among others - will put the
financial proposals of government into effect.
As we are all aware, many businesses were adversely affected by the recession;
many lost their means of livelihood. As the country emerges from that period of
uncertainty, the question on the lips of many Nigerians has been this: How does
the recovery translate into tangible economic benefits for me? We must remember
that the real gains must be felt on a personal level by the individual, for
economic recovery to have meaning. People are seeking to get back to work but
cannot find jobs. Entrepreneurs want to restart their businesses but are
finding it difficult to access the needed capital. As for our farmers, the last
thing they want is for produce to go to waste because people cannot afford to
Looking around today, we see that many of our undergraduates are apprehensive
about their graduation day; and our National Youth Corps members are not
looking forward to the end of the service year, for fear of being tagged
‘unemployed’. While I commend your current efforts at tackling unemployment -
especially among the youth through Federal Youth Programmes such as YouWin,
N-Power, and YES-Programme - deliberate steps must be taken to make the 2018
budget a job oriented one.
In line with that, we must see to the implementation of the Procurement law,
with particular relevance to the part that has to do with support for
Made-In-Nigeria goods. The implementation of the 2018 budget must anchor on the
Made-In-Nigeria project. This should be reflected in government procurements in
As we strive to start implementing the budget from January, all would be in
vain if we do not eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and speed up the
procurement process. We are working towards reviewing the Procurement Act to
Also, government should continue to create the enabling environment for private
sector businesses to thrive through its policies and spending priorities. As we
pat ourselves on the back that Nigeria has made a quantum leap, going up 24
places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking, we cannot rest on our
laurels. There is a need to complement reforms in the ease of doing business
with targeted spending on those critical infrastructure projects that enhance
economic activity and job creation.
In view of this, we must move beyond budgetary provisions without adequate
funding available for the execution of projects – and ensure that selection of
contractors, as well as the release of funds, are transparent. We must
therefore make project completion a top priority, especially those projects
that directly impact the lives of our people.
On our part, the 8th National Assembly is standing firm on its objective of
expanding economic opportunities through economic reform bills that we have
prioritized. Some of these are beginning to affirm the vision of reforms that
we need in order to move our country forward.
Let me now talk about mainstreaming social inclusion. Mr. President, each and
every Nigerian wants to be part of the economic progress. We must never lose sight
of the need for equity and balanced development across the entire spread of our
country. Infrastructural development should be seen to be well distributed, to
create growth pools away from the major city centres and drive the regeneration
of our rural areas. Agriculture, for instance, is meaningless without those
that will engage in farming in the countryside. The current rate of
rural-to-urban migration is alarming and unsustainable – congesting the cities
and stretching resources to breaking point, while undermining the economic
viability of some states. People must be able to see a future for themselves in
every corner of this country, not just in the big cities.
Mr. President, there are big ticket projects like Power, Rail and A-Trunk
roads, but also, there are smaller projects which impact people’s lives. We
must do both. Those in charge should ensure proper execution or face sanction.
It is important that I emphasize that the presentation of the budget should in
no way dampen enthusiasm for the implementation of the 2017 Budget. Whatever
needs to be done to ensure that we achieve close to full implementation of the
budget, is what must be done.
As I close, Mr. President, I would like to advise and caution that there is no
better time in this Administration than now for a rigorous drive for good
working relationship between the Executive and the Legislature. The early
passage of the 2018 budget will depend on this good working relationship. The
passage of important Executive bills that improve ‘ease of doing business’ is
also dependent on this. So, Mr. President, the 469 Members in this chamber are
your true partners that will ensure the success of your administration in
achieving its goals and objectives. So, lobby them (not the PDP way), close
ranks and let them work for you.
Let me assure Mr. President that, in considering the 2018 Budget proposal, the
National Assembly will work with your team, as we are convinced that more can
be achieved together.
On this note, I hereby invite Your Excellency to deliver your speech and lay
the 2018 Budget proposal for the consideration of the National Assembly, in
accordance with Section 81 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria as amended.
24. I thank you all for your attention.
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