2019 Still Faraway, It’s Insensitive For Politicians To Focus On Elections Now – Saraki
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Sunday declared that it is insensitive for political office holders to preoccupy themselves with the 2019 elections to the detriment of serious issues of serving their constituents.
Speaking in an interview with journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara capital, he reasoned that the next round of national elections was still a long period for serious-minded politicians to concentrate their energy on to the detriment of good governance.
Acknowledging that elected public office holders had not met some of the expectations of Nigerians, Saraki averred that they should rather be committed to rendering services and fulfilling their electoral promises.
His words, “The year 2019 is a long way. Any serious-minded politician, who is interested in his people, should not be talking about 2019, especially if we want to be honest with ourselves; some of the expectations of our people have not been met.
I think it will be insensitive if we have left that and we are now talking about 2019. We need to work hard to make sure that we meet those expectations.
“The economy is already moving in the right direction, which is why we are addressing the issue of security, which is good. We are fighting corruption; we need to do more in that area.
By the time we work tremendously over the next one year, I think we will be in a place where we can beat our chest and say we have done well.”
Reacting to the delay in the signing of the 2017 appropriation bill into law, the Senate President told Nigerians not to be apprehensive about whether the Presidency would assent to the budget or not.
He said, “There was a comment I read online where the Presidency had said it did not have an intention not to sign.
I do not think that (not signing the budget) will happen; I doubt very much.
“Nigerians should not be concerned about that; I am pretty sure that the Executive will sign the bill and we will begin to implement the budget.
I am confident that the Executive will sign it very soon. There should be no anxiety there.”
Saraki went on to express concern over the high interest rates charged on loans, disclosing that the upper chamber will this week discuss the issue with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Deposit Money Banks.
He stated that it was immoral for certain sectors to be making astronomical profits in an economy where workers were being retrenched and people were losing investments.
According to him, “They (banks) will tell you that they are doing business but in doing business, there must be social responsibility.
We must be able to sit down and look at ourselves eyeball to eyeball, and we intend to do that; and I can promise Nigerians that we can find a solution. Hopefully with the stability in the forex market, we will now begin to address the high interest rate.
“There is no business that can make money if it is trying to borrow at 28 or 29 per cent. It cannot work and if we cannot get the banks to lend to the real sector and they carry on their money to government instruments, there cannot be growth. So, we must tackle that. I can assure you that I will lead that challenge. We must sit down and discuss it.”
He continued that, “they are in business to make money but we must look at what money is reasonable in this kind of environment. You may have to reduce that profitability to allow your country to grow.
It is that balancing that we need, but in doing that, there must be some incentives. We may have to tell them, ‘Listen, we may have to limit how much you put in government security’.
“What do you do with that extra amount of money? It must go to the real sector. It must go to the business that produce made-in-Nigeria products.
They may say that it is too risky to do that. In doing that, we must give them some assistance. This is the kind of negotiation we must make.”
The Senate President assured that the upper legislative chamber would discuss with the CBN and the banks on how to address the high interest rate regime.
He urged Nigerians to patronise locally-made products, adding that people should report any ministry, department and agency that flouted the Senate’s directive that indigenous companies producing such commodities should be given the option of first refusal during public procurement.