1.It is a pleasure to be at this Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Chief Executive Officers’ Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI). I thank the Honourable Minister and the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry for my invitation.

2.This Forum is coming at crucial time for economies on the continent. GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa over the last one year has been the weakest in nearly a decade. The recessive Nigerian economy has, in some way, been responsible for the parlous state of affairs, since, along with South Africa, Nigeria accounts for half of the GDP of the region.

3.One fallout of the economic downturn has been the reduced ability to access the funds necessary to aid development and bring our people out of poverty. It has also become more difficult to refinance loans to help sustain economic momentum. I therefore welcome the theme of this Abuja Forum, which is geared towards: ‘Strengthening African DFIs through Good Corporate Governance and Appropriate Regulations for Sustainable Development Financing in Africa’.

4.In Nigeria, the steep depreciation of the naira has made the repayment of foreign loans more difficult, a situation that has also eroded capital adequacy. Consequently, the banks have been less than enthusiastic about lending. The frayed nerves were evident some days ago, in the general apprehension over an expected loan to Nigeria from a multi-lateral development financial institution. It is therefore crucial for African countries to able to demonstrate the ability to repay existing debt, while keying into reforms that should enable them access cheaper and easier financing.

5.In all this, Nigeria’s 8th National Assembly sees an opportunity to shift the focus from oil, to truly diversify our economy into the non-oil sector, which accounts for up to 92 per cent of the country’s GDP. Over the past year, the Senate has conducted an Economic Legislative Agenda to promote economic growth in the country, as well as job creation. Much of this effort is geared towards strengthening the role of the private sector and boosting investor confidence. Our showing in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking for 2018, which saw Nigeria move up 24 places, is a sure sign that we are getting some things right and creating an enabling environment that engenders greater investor confidence.

6.One of our primary goals in the National Assembly is to reduce government intervention in sectors that are traditionally guided by market forces. This will help create more of the industries needed for the job growth and economic stability. To this end, several of the Senate’s priority economic bills are making their way to final passage in both Chambers of the National Assembly.

7.Earlier this week, in my remarks during Mr. President’s presentation of the 2018 Budget, I touched on the need to speed up the procurement process by removing unnecessary bureaucracy, even as we work towards reviewing the Procurement Act to achieve this purpose. I also called for the implementation of the Procurement law to be anchored on the ‘Made-In-Nigeria’ project, to stimulate local production and create more jobs.

8.For better policy coordination and greater efficiency in government’s economic programmes and tax policies, we asked that the budgets of parastatals and agencies of government be submitted with the 2018 Budget, backed by sanctions, in cases where this requirement is not met. We have made clear our intention to ensure the revenue generating agencies live up to expectation. In the same vein, we will be seeking an amendment to the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, to compel all agencies and institutions of government to comply with financial regulations regarding income generation, accounting and remittances.

9.We are, of course, insisting on the full implementation of last year’s budget, to better deliver on economic gains. We are not against borrowing in itself; our concern is that we must get value for money on borrowing. Loans should be targeted at productive projects and not overpriced, while the selection of contractors and release of funds ought to be transparent. Similarly, all wastage and leakages should be plugged.

10.Ladies and gentlemen, we are confident that, with these measures, and the passage of the economic bills we have prioritized, Nigeria is on the road to full economic recovery. These reforms should also go a long way towards sustainable financing in the region and the continent as a whole.

11.It is my belief that your deliberations at this Abuja Forum will make for better regional integration in policies and approach among the multilateral development finance institutions and international banks. You can count on the support of the 8th Senate as you do so.

12.Thank you for listening.


Abubakar Bukola Saraki MBBS CON (pronunciationⓘ; born on 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who served as the 13th president of the Nigerian Senate from 2015 to 2019.[1][2] He previously served as the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections