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President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Thursday,
stated that one of the primary objectives of the 8th National Assembly
is to increase private sector participation in all spheres of the
economy in order to make the country viable.

Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni
Onogu, in Abuja, stated this while welcoming the Board of Directors of
the United States (U.S.) Chamber of Commerce and the Africa Business
Centre (ABC) during their courtesy visit to  the leadership of the
Senate at the National Assembly.
Other members of the delegation led by the ABC Co-Chair and Chairman
of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, included the U.S. Ambassador
to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim
Ovia, President of the ABC, Mr. Scott Eisner and several other board
members.

The President of the Senate was was joined by Majority Leader, Senator
Ahmad Lawan, Deputy Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah and 13 other Senators.


Saraki said that the aim of the 8th National Assembly under his
leadership is to reduce "government intervention in sectors that
traditionally are guided by market forces."

"One of our primary goals is to increase the private sector’s
participation in the economy by reducing government intervention in
sectors that traditionally are guided by market forces," Saraki said.
"This reform will help create more industries needed for 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." 


The President of the Senate said that “trade and job creation through
trade is a two-way street and that the National Assembly is open to
listening to ideas about how to further the cooperation between
Nigeria and the U.S. private sector.”

Over the past two years, Nigeria has invested heavily in the
agriculture sector as an integral initiative to diversify the economy.

Saraki said that “obviously we have invested too much to change our
national strategy.  The current challenge is how do we attract
investment to grow the industries within the agriculture sector.”

Several members of the delegation thanked the President of the Senate
for his leadership on economic reform issues and in undertaking a
review for recommendations to enhance Nigeria’s ICT sector.

IBM announced at the meeting that the company will soon commence its
Digital Nation training program in Africa where they seek to train
some 25 million people—mostly in Nigeira—for “new collar jobs.”

The Senate President applauded the project and commended the companies
for their efforts to train young Nigerians.

“Nigeria’s ability to grow the economy with jobs is a national
priority” Saraki said.  “ICT development is the way to develop
employment and skills training opportunities for many young people in
Nigeria and we must continue to work together to create the enabling
environment to realize this potential."

He also welcomed the Co-Chair of the Africa Business Center, Alhaji
Aliko Dangote, to the National Assembly and commended him for his
contributions that helped shape the Senate’s Economic Legislative
Agenda through his participation in a business leader’s roundtable in
Lagos in September 2016.

"It should be noted that several of his keen observations and ideas
were incorporated into the National Assembly’s Recommendations to
President Muhammadu Buhari, on growing the economy," Saraki stated.

According to Mr. Eisner, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents three
million U.S. companies.  “The creation of the ABC represents a new era
of economic engagement.  It is intended to help breakdown market
barriers for increased U.S.-Nigeria trade and investment.”

On his part, the leader of the delegation, Dangote, said the visit to
the President of the Senate and the Leadership of the Senate by the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Africa Business Centre was meant to
discuss things of interest "as they affect  Nigeria, Africa and the
United States."

"There are a lot of things in terms of what other companies are doing
in terms of job creation, training, Africans in ICT and also how to
improve the situation and get most of the U.S. companies to come and
be involved in agriculture where Nigeria  can have food security and
be major exporters of food items rather than importing food," Dangote
said.

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