Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said yesterday that COVID-19 has offered the country the best opportunity to reduce cost of governance and diversify her economy. Gbajabiamila, who stated this in an address to his colleagues at the resumption of plenary, after the House resumed from a 35-day recess occasioned by outbreak of coronavirus in the country, noted that the virus has destroyed the nation’s economy, stressing that the only way out was for the economy to be reformed.
According to him, a drastic reduction in the cost of governance is the point to start the country’s economic recovery. The speaker, who also noted that palliatives introduced by the Federal Government to cushion the effects of COVID-19 must reach all Nigerians, said the House will work on a legislation to ensure the National Social Investment Programme, NSIP, achieves the aim for which it was established.
He said: “We intend to bring these unique perspectives in our ongoing work to codify the National Social Investment Programmes, NSIP, into a Bill that will be considered by the House at our next adjourned date. “We will also at that time seek to pass a second Economic Stimulus Bill to provide necessary relief to individuals and corporate organizations in Nigeria.
We expect that before then, the Senate will quickly consider and pass the first Economic Stimulus Bill which has since been passed in the House and now awaits concurrence by the Senate.”
He said the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated global economy, adding that at a time social welfare demands on the public purse were higher than they had ever been, the nation’s present reality called for nothing short of a wholesale reform of its governance structures, systems and processes. “Any such efforts must of necessity, begin with drastic reductions in the cost of governance coupled with determined efforts to drive economic diversity and innovation in the non-oil sector. “There are no longer any sacred cows, protected spaces or classes. Every area of our national health policy, economic policy, tax policy, education policy and security architecture are now on the table for reform.
“We must turn this moment of profound crises into an opportunity to make the hard choices we have too long deferred but can now no longer avoid if we are to survive as a nation. This House of Representatives is ready, and I trust that we will find allies in government and across our country who are prepared to make the changes that our country needs to survive, recover and thrive.” On palliatives, Gbajabiamila said although the government had done its best to reach as many Nigerians as possible, evidence showed that many people in need were yet to get any form of palliative.