Worried by the predicted economic recession in Nigeria, the Senate on Wednesday summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), Godwin Emefiele to brief it, and explain fiscal policies being adopted by them to salvage the situation. Senators during the day’s plenary expressed worries that the economic policies of President Mohammadu Buhari within the last one year have not been achieving the desired impact, stressing the need for an urgent review, to avoid further plunge of the economy into full blown recession.
The Senate also observed decline in crude oil production from the 2016 Budget benchmark of 2.2 million barrels per day by 800,000b/d and feared that meeting key budgetary revenue projections in the budget are “practically impossible”. Adeosun and Emefiele were summoned by the Senate on Wednesday, just as the House of Representatives committee on Police Affairs investigating the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farming communities summoned the Interior Minister, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd); Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase and the representatives of the Miyatti Allah Cattle Rearers Association to appear before it. Noting that budgetary revenue projections may not be met, the Senate stressed the need to have a rethink, so as to avoid deepening budget deficit in the 2016 fiscal year or have a situation of poor budget implementation.
The Senate took the position after a motion moved by Senator Bassey Albert Akpan (PDP Akwa -Ibom North – East) on “an urgent need to address the present economic state of the nation”, Senator Akpan predicated his motion on a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which was released last week. The NBS had in its score card for the first quarter (January -March) of 2016 for GDP, painted a gloomy picture of rising inflation and unemployment as prelude to total economic recession. The Senate observed from the report a decline of 0.36 per cent which is a drastic drop from 2.11 per cent in Q4 2015 in GDP; increased unemployment rate to 12.1 per cent in Q1 2016 from 10.4 per cent in Q4 2015.
The report further disclosed that Underemployment also increased to 19.1per cent from 18.7 per cent in the same period, while the rate of inflation rose from 9.6 per cent in January 2016 to 13.8 per cent in April 2016 with attendant increase in prices of basic food commodities and services in the country. The Senate in the motion, said it felt deeply concerned that the continued complacency of the current state of our economy, if allowed unchecked, will set the tone for a full blown economic recession by the end of June this year as confirmed by CBN in its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting. It added that the current economic constraint is the first major drastic slump since June 2004, which according to the CBN is a 12-year-low, but the World Bank’s position is a 21-yearlow.
At the House of Representatives, Chairman of the Police Affairs committee, Rep. Haliru Dauda Jika issued the order on Wednesday, when the affected government officials and the Fulani apex body failed to appear at the public hearing being conducted by the House on the clashes between herdsmen and Tiv and Agatu communities in Benue State that claimed so many lives and led the destruction of properties.
Before issuing the summons, the committee chairman had come under fire from lawmakers, who accused him of failing to wield the big stick to compel heads of the security agencies invited by the committee to appear at the public hearing. The first salvo came from the Chairman, Committee on Aviation, Rep. Nkieruka Onyejeocha (PDP-Abia), who while lamenting the goriness of the pictorial evidence presented by the Tiv community raised alarm over the absence of the police boss and the minister of interior who were supposed to be the drivers of whatever resolution that the committee would reach.
“I take exception to the fact that the Inspector General will not be here to listen to these presentations where we are seeing pictures showing how people were brutally murdered; not just murdered but butchered in the most gruesome way ever seen and somebody might say, did this really happen? “So, I would like to tell the committee chairman to do what’s necessary to compel them to come here and answer questions being raised by these people who are alleging that no single person has been arrested in the wake of all these killings.
“For God’s sake, how can Nigerians be so maimed and traumatised and security agencies will fold their hands and watch the impunity go on without making arrest. I want to see people arrested and prosecuted, and the inspector general must be here to answer our questions”, she said. Following the insistence by committee members that all those summoned must appear before the committee today or incur the wrath of the legislature, the chairman after a closed door session ruled that the committee “will be left with no option but to invoke relevant sections of the constitution to compel compliance”.
Earlier, the Tiv people in Benue state, under the aegis of Mdzough U Tiv informed the House Committee that Fulani herdsmen had killed over 984 Tiv people between 2014 and 2016. In a report co-signed by the President General of the Mdzough U Tiv, Edward Ujege and Secretary General, Azer Ukende, the body told the committee that over 29, 974 people have also been displaced across the state, with property worth over N40billion lost to the mayhem. The President General, who said he was speaking for Tiv people all over the world by the virtue of his office, accused security agencies of neglecting their duties to secure the people of Benue state.
He specifically accused the police of not arresting a single herdsman since the killings started, adding that the police and federal government had often referred to the killers as unidentified herdsmen. From his report, Ujege said that in 2014, 142 persons were killed in Guma Local Government Area; 6, 544 persons displaced with property worth over N128 million lost, while in Gwer East, 15 people were killed, 253 displaced with over N53million destroyed.
In Gwer West, he said 168 people were killed, 4,543 displaced and property worth over N592million lost; Katsina Ala, 20 killed, 1679 displaced, over N4billion lost; in Kwande, 3199 displaced, over N132million lost; In Logo, 54 killed, 4088 displaced, over N9billion lost, and in Makurdi, 484 killed, 3018 displaced and over N31billion lost. Ujege further stated that in 2015 and 2016, 28 people were killed in Buruku, 6650 displaced and over N8billion was lost in two wards of Binev and Mbaya, and in four wards in Logo, 58 killed, with people displaced too and property destroyed, as well as in Tarka, where 15 people were killed and also in Ukum, where 101 were killed, 6650 displaced and over N8billion lost.