The Speaker of House of Representatives has revealed that in preparing for the new reality the country faces, he has established a Covid-19 Strategic Response Team (CRST) with a broad mandate to develop interventions and reforms and to update the Legislative Agenda to reflect Nigeria’s post-Covid realities and priorities.
“The Strategic Response Team will be supported by a group of technical experts, private sector leaders and representatives. Their experience and expertise will ensure that the policy proposals presented to the House are rigorously grounded in a fact-based reality.”
Gbajabiamila said the House would work on legislation in that regard, saying, “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 organisations in Nigeria.
“We expect that before then, the Senate will quickly consider and pass the first Economic Stimulus Bill which has since passed in the House and now awaits concurrence by the Senate.”
He said the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated global economy, and that “at a time when the social welfare demands on the public purse are higher than they have ever been, our present reality calls for nothing short of a wholesale reform of our governing 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.
He further said, “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.
“He reiterated the call on the government of the Peoples Republic of China to ensure that Nigerians and people of African descent resident in China receive the human right protections to which all citizens of the world are entitled in view of continuous reports of mistreatment of Nigerians in that country.
“These are the same rights and privileges the people of China receive in foreign lands, including here in Nigeria. Where there are credible cases of discrimination, harassment or rights abuses against our citizens, swift and visible action must be taken by the Chinese authorities to safeguard lives, livelihoods, property and the sense of human dignity of Nigerians and fellow Africans.” Gbajabiamila said.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for all the actions taken so far, the Speaker also lauded the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), well-meaning Nigerians that have contributed to the fight against the pandemic, among others. He also thanked his colleagues for their contributions to the welfare and well being of their constituents in this challenging time.