Buhari Seeks Extraordinary Powers In Attempt To Arrest Economic Downturn

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In the midst of economic instability and the attendant problems that come with it, President Buhari has decided to seek Emergency powers from the National Assembly.

The reason  for this plan is to arrest the downward spiral the Nigerian Economy has found itself experiencing.

The proposed plan will seek to increase the value of the naira, create more jobs, boost foreign reserves, revive the manufacturing sector and improve power.

According to The Nation, this course of action was made necessary after the economic team headed by Prof. Yemi Osinbajo reviewed the various policies so far introduced and how they have affected the economy.

The team came to the conclusion that unless some urgency was shown, which existing laws would hinder “the recession may be longer than expected and Nigerians will not get the desired respite, which is the goal of this government”.

The Bill titled: “Emergency Economic Stabilisation Bill 2016” is to be presented to the National Assembly when the Senate and the House of Representatives resume from vacation on September 12.

The Bill, if implemented, will give President Buhari the right to set aside some laws and by the use of executive order, dictate an economic recovery package within the next year.

The powers sought would be to:

  • abridge the procurement process to support stimulus spending on critical sectors of the economy;
  • make orders to favour local contractors/suppliers in contract awards;
  • abridge the process of sale or lease of government assets to generate revenue;
  • allow virement of budgetary allocation to projects that are urgent, without going back to the National Assembly.
  • amend certain laws, such as the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) Act, so that states that cannot access their cash trapped in the accounts of the commission because they cannot meet the counterpart funding, can do so; and
  • to embark on radical reforms in visa issuance at Nigeria’s consular offices and on arrival in the country and to compel some agencies of government like the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the National Agency for Foods Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and others to improve on their turn around operation time for the benefit of business.

An instance is the current law on procurement which does not allow the award of any contract earlier than six months after the decision is made. Part of this is a mandatory advertisement of the contract for six weeks. The economic team identified this as a problem in the present climate.

According to The Nation, a source said,  “Nigeria may be broke at the moment but we are not a poor country, given our assets and capability.”

The move will also get government agencies to fast-track their operations which will in turn enable foreign investors to come into the country without the current bottlenecks.

Some of the plans also include making tourism easier by making Visas to Nigeria more accessible. Those coming in and out of Nigeria would be allowed to do so with as little fuss as possible.

To boost the power sector, the government also plans to truck gas from source to the power plants to enable them get what they need for generation.

This means is more expensive but “it is a price to be paid for Nigerians’ comfort”.

The Nation reports that President Buhari will meet with the leadership of the National Assembly before their resumption to drum up support for the Bill and try to convince the parties involved to fast-track the passage of the Bill.

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