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January 23, 2021

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Despite the recession that Nigeria entered in 2020, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the early passage of the 2020 budget improved the economy.

Had the budget not been passed in December 2019, he said the nation’s economy would have experienced worse setbacks than it did in 2020.

In November 2020, the Nigerian economy slipped into its second recession in five years – when the gross domestic product contracted for the second consecutive quarter.

It was the nation’s second recession since 2016, and the worst economic decline in almost four decades.

It was announced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the nation’s GDP recorded negative growth of 3.62 per cent in the third quarter of 2020. Nigeria had earlier recorded a 6.10 per cent contraction in the second quarter.

The NBS said the performance of the economy in the third quarter of 2020 reflected “residual effects of the restrictions to (on) movement and economic activity implemented across the country in early Q2 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Self-appraisal

Speaking with journalists on the occasion of his 62nd birthday in Abuja, Mr Lawan said Nigeria suffered a recession of -6% because lawmakers were able to pass the budget on time.

“Our economy would have been worse if the budget 2020 was passed mid-year last year like the practice was. But we suffered a recession of -6 per cent, now we are in a recession of -3.2 per cent and that is because we were still able to get the budget passed.

“The recession, we have been told by the experts will come to an end probably at the end of the first quarter this year, because we have extended the implementation period of the 2020 capital budget allocation to 31st March.”

‘Demons of PIB will be defeated’

Among the plans of the lawmakers for 2021 is the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). The Senate President said this will be done against all odds.

ALSO READ: 2021 Budget: National Assembly did what was never done before – Ahmed Lawan

Mr Lawan, who described the bill as a demon that has lingered for too long, disclosed that many people who have worked against the passage of the bill will be stopped. He, however, did not mention the ‘people’ involved.

“By the grace of God, when we resume, we will start work on the Petroleum Industry Bill. That is going to be one ‘heck’ of legislation that not only Nigeria but the entire world is waiting, because that will change our economy. Money will start flowing.

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“…that PIB thing is like a demon, there are people both within and outside the country who will work against it but it is going to be the strength of our patriotism to pass it.

“People didn’t want it to happen because they stopped it from happening for 20 years. When we said we will do it, one of them came to me and said ‘SP, you see, you don’t have to do this thing now. It is not going to work’.”

He said the zeal and courage of lawmakers that was used to pass the Deep Offshore Oil Production Contracts Act, will be used to pass the PIB.

The lawmakers are expected to resume legislative activities on January 26.

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