Let me begin by giving gratitude to God Almighty, because it is by His grace that we are all gathered here again, to witness this second edition of our Town Hall Meeting. I welcome you, dear leaders of our great party the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), party supporters, distinguished guests and gentlemen of the press to this second edition of Lagos Central Senatorial District Town Hall Meeting. I want to express my appreciation for your contributions to the success of the maiden edition of this programme, held on December 19th 2012 at the Muson Centre on Lagos Island. Indeed, your enduring support has been a great inspiration to my members of staff and me in carrying out the assignment that you have given to me. I thank you and I pray that the good Lord will bless you all richly.
My duty to you this morning is to present a report, with details of activities in the Senate since our last meeting. As you already know, my Senate assignment covers the following committees: Senate committees on 1. Education 2. Marine Transport 3. Millennium Development Goals 4. Trade and Investment 5. Women Affairs 6. Employment, Labour and Productivity (Vice Chairman). Despite the busy schedule of Senate activities involving scrutiny of the 2012 budgetary proposals from various ministries, departments and agencies over the past couple of weeks, I am glad to share with you areas where some progress have been made. EDUCATION Early this year, the Senate Committee on Education helped resolve matters between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government, on a hopeful note that the perennial industrial action on our campuses may soon cease considerably.
In addition, at the end of January 2012, the Committee also presented a ‘’Report on the investigation of the Illegality of Post-UME and the failure of JAMB to Conduct Examinations Acceptable to Universities”. Parents and applicants complained about multiple expenses, added stress, exorbitant charges, non-standardization of screening processes and so on.
On the other hand, universities’ Vice Chancellors assert that Post-UME test ensures the admission of quality candidates with better potentials for good character and appreciation of learning. The report facilitated a point of convergence and understanding for all stakeholders. EMPLOYMENT, LABOUR AND PRODUCTIVITY According to the National Bureau of Statistics (N.B.S.) survey reports released in February 2012, Nigeria’s unemployment rate increased from 19.7% in 2009 to 21.1% in 2010 and 23.9% in 2011, with unemployment rates in rural areas reaching 25.6% (Source: National Bureau of Statistics’ 2011 Annual Socio-Economic Report). Everywhere in Nigeria today, there is widespread concern that poverty and unemployment continue to foster intense insecurity across the nation. Several of us in the Senate are not indifferent.
Our party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN)’s position on issues such as state and community policing, fiscal federalism and people-focussed governance increasingly appear to be needed remedies. There is urgent need to effectively halt our nation’s gradual descent into what Thomas Hobbes, the late English philosopher described as ‘’the state of nature’’ characterized by “continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’’. According to the N.B.S.’ report and despite strong growth in the nation’s economy, about 100 million people are today, living on less than the equivalent of one dollar a day. The percentage of Nigerians living in abject poverty – those who can afford only the bare essentials of food, shelter and clothing, rose to 60.9% in 2010, compared with 54.7% in 2004. You see in six years, there was no significant improvement, just a paltry 6.2%. This regrettable trend is partly responsible for the worsening malaise of crime, insecurity and drug use among young Nigerians.
I want to re-assure this august gathering today that I will continue to work with my progressive colleagues to fight and agitate for legislation that will lead to the creation of jobs for our teeming youth. MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS We are expecting the Federal Government to fulfil expectations for the commissioning of solar lighting projects in some parts of our constituency, starting with Baale Street in Sangotedo area and Agungi Ajiran road, both in Eti-Osa Local Government Area.