The Senate has, for the umpteenth time, lamented about the rising spate of insecurity in the country, stating that the neglect of the poor by successive governments has led to the surge of banditry, as well as kidnapping against the elite.
The lawmakers of the upper chamber made this assertion during the deliberation of a motion moved by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North), entitled: “Bridging the gap between the haves and the have-nots in Nigeria to nip in the bud the seeds of a looming violent revolution”, during plenary on Wednesday.
Senator Utazi noted that the gulf between the “haves” and “have not” was wide, warning that the country’s poor are tired by the poverty and unemployment which has bewailed them and have decided to resolve their challenges by taking up arms to attack the elite.
The lawmaker said: “What we are witnessing today is a culmination of long years of neglect of the welfare and future of younger generations and unwillingness by both the government and the elite to plan for the future or read the signs of upheaval. Today, the chicken has returned home to roost: the downtrodden are revolting. Hitherto docile beggars have risen in arms, forcing those with powers of patronage to beg for safety. The elite are being attacked. We have in our hands a dictatorship of the beggars, fuelled by drugs and poverty.
“While the whole country is being dangerously menaced from every angle, the northern part of the country has come under mass revolt by the poor expressed in the rampant criminality of the neglected. The poverty and unemployment rates of the country are haunting it. An idle mind, they say, tempts the devil. It is sesame for anarchy.”
Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central), who seconded the motion, warned that the country may soon experience a revolution led by ordinary Nigerians.
He said: “I believe that this motion is a wake-up call for the privileged class to look at the state of the nation and to know that their survival is hinged on their ability and capacity to make the ordinary man comfortable.
“What has sparked up revolutions in countries like the Soviet Union? What has sparked up revolution in countries that have established government that are people-oriented? It is the failure of the elite to address those very fundamental issues.”
Senator Ahmed Lawan, the Senate Majority Leader, however, emphasized that the government needs to do beyond providing employment for Nigerians by creating a friendly economic environment.
“It is not only about creating jobs but also about creating a very clement economic environment for the citizens,” he said.
Senator Lawan praised the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for its programmes, saying they have been able to ameliorate some of the economic challenges of Nigerians.
After deliberating on the motion, the upper chamber resolved to “urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to declare an emergency on unemployment in Nigeria, create more pro-poor social safety nets, dedicate 20 per cent of recovered loot to fund same, and take other urgent measures to stimulate production and other economic activities to engage young citizens of the country.”
It also agreed to “enjoin the Federal Government to increase the budgets to education by allocating and effectively implementing 26 per cent of the yearly budget to education beginning from the next budget cycle in 2020 and enjoin states to do same.”
The lawmakers also two adopted additional prayers: asking the Federal Government to adopt a policy of one-factory-per-local government area and set up an Unemployment Support Fund where everyone would contribute.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, who presided over plenary, asked the Clerk of the Senate to note the resolutions for transmission to the executive.