The President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has said the National Assembly will address the Federal Government’s non-payment of stipend to scholarship students in Russia.
The President of the Senate gave the assurance when he met with the Nigerian community in St. Petersburg, Russia on Monday.
He expressed concern that Nigeria was not able to fulfill its part of the scholarship agreement with the Russian Government.
Saraki said: “I assure you that when I get back, we will try to address some of the issues like not being able to fulfill our part of agreement on the issue of scholarship offered to Nigerians by the Russian Government.
“We heard the allowances and stipends agreed on have not been paid to students for some time now.”
Saraki further assured that the National Assembly would look into enacting or amending an existing law to include re-integration of Nigerians offered scholarship by the Federal Government.
He said: “We have not been able to do that as a government and right now we are losing from having these potentials help develop our economy.
“So we will take it up and you will see what we will do in that area.”
Saraki, however, expressed concern on reports of Nigerians involved in trafficking and those residing illegally in Russia.
He promised to discuss with the relevant Russian authorities about Nigerians who were illegally residing in Russia but are interested in regularising their documents.
He pledged to bring up the issue to see if they could be given the window to go back to Nigeria and get their papers in order to return to Russia.
He said: “I am meeting with the chairman of the Russian Parliament and I will discuss the issues we are told affect Nigerians here.
“I assure you that we are going to take up all these issues.”
On bilateral relations between Nigeria and Russia, Saraki said: “We want to use our opportunity of visiting Russia to see how we can enhance our bilateral relations because there is a lot of potential here that we can build on.
“In the area of oil and gas, we have met a few countries that are ready to partner with us in developing the sector.
“We are more interested in developing gas for local consumption and that is where we need help.
“Anybody can go into gas for export, but we need gas for power and Russia said they are ready to do that and we need to take that seriously and create more opportunities.
“We have noted that we need to be doing more.
“That brings me to the issue of agriculture.
“I want to assure us that there is a shift in the area of agriculture.
“I can speak from experience.
“When I was governor, I pushed seriously for commercial agriculture and for the first time, I am seeing it happening at the state level.
“I am hopeful that there will be a change in agriculture, provided there is no policy somersault.
“If we can stay focused on that policy, we will see a tremendous change.’’
Saraki promised to ensure that the National Assembly helped in tackling smuggling and insecurity, stressing that the present government was doing all within its power to reposition the economy.
According to him, the Federal Government was working to stop importation of goods into the country.
He further stated: “We spend over $5 billion importing food items.
“I remember when this government came into existence, we were the second largest importer of rice, but I can assure you that by the first quarter of 2018 to the end of 2019, we will stop importing rice.
“If we can do same for other sectors, we will be going in the right direction.”
Source: The Eagle