Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Sunday, advocated for teacher’s salaries to become an item in the capital expenditure in the budget of state and Federal Governments in order to ensure its prompt payment to beneficiaries.
Saraki who spoke during an interactive Town Hall meeting styled ‘#AskSaraki’, which was organised for constituents of his Kwara Central Senatorial district, as part of the activities to mark the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations noted that “I have always said that teacher’s salaries are one of the priorities that we must not neglect. This is why we should consider transitioning all such line items in the national and state budgets into capital expenditures. This will ensure that education is always a matter of greatest importance and teacher’s salaries are always promptly paid.”
The Senate President added that it was useless to put building of classrooms and provision of laboratory equipment in capital expenditure when the teachers who will teach students are not paid and therefore not happy.
Saraki who gave account of his stewardship as both Senator representing Kwara Central District and the Chairman of the 8th National Assembly also addressed his concerns about the lingering economic situation in the country, emphasising that a concerted legislative and policy thrust from both the National Assembly and the executive arms was needed to bring Nigeria out of recession.
“As things stand, I understand your concerns and feel your pains about the economy,” he said, “I assure you that we will work together to bring about legislative and policy solutions to address the lingering economic situation.”
Saraki answered questions from citizens and community leaders representing various interests in the state, primarily about the economic recession, unemployment rates, and his legislative stewardship throughout the 8th Assembly, highlighting his advocacy and lawmaking activities which have brought about the passage of bills like the Public Procurement Act amendment, aimed at giving local producers and service providers first-option priority in government procurement process and the championing of the Made in Nigeria campaign.
“What we have done with your mandate at the National Assembly is to push for bills and initiatives that will put more money in your pockets,” Saraki said, “With the amendment of the Public Procurement Act, more entrepreneurs from Kwara and across the country will be able to participate in the government’s procurement process, and the ‘Made in Nigeria’ campaign will boost the internally generated revenues of both our state and the Federal government.”
The Senate President further emphasised that a concerted approach of both the legislature and the executive is needed to combat the lingering economic crisis, while underscoring the importance of seeing obstacles like the recession as opportunities to focus inwards to achieve economic diversification and better fiscal management.
“I assure you, when the National Assembly resumes, we will all work together to achieve legislative and policy solutions to the lingering economic situation,” the Senate President said, “We understand that no one branch of government can solve this crisis alone.”
He explained that he understood the impact of the economic crisis in the lives of the people and that he would work with other people in government to find quick solution to the problem.
“Those of us that you have elected into office are aware of the difficult economic situation in our country. We know we have to find a solution as fast as possible. We have no option. Once the Senate resumes, we will invite all those involved in the management of the economy to explain to the people what they are doing to solve the problem. Whoever among them does not measure up to expectation in his or her explanation we will recommend that he should be removed. This is time for co-operation and exchange of ideas”, Saraki said.
While calling for patience and understanding from the people, he said the current situation calls for urgent and constant dialogue between the people in government and the electorate as nobody is happy with the current situation.
“I appreciate our people. I empathise with you and I am genuinely concerned and disturbed about what our people are going through. The situation is grim enough for you to ignore our invitation to this event. Let it be known that I will never take your support for granted. We will not disappoint you. The growth of the economy is my major pre-occupation and that of the Senate” he said to the admiration of the mammoth crowd.