This week, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the President of the Nigerian Senate, deserved to ‘drop his mic.’ After promising to deliver a comprehensive reform to Nigeria’s business environment, he did it — with the passage of the re-enactment of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).
After promising, to ensure that Nigerians across the country receive basic primary healthcare — so they won’t have to pay so much out-of-pocket, he did it with the National Assembly’s passage of the stipulation that 1% out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund must go towards funding primary healthcare in the 2018 budget.
Of course, Saraki could not have done all this without the help and support of his colleagues in the 8th National Assembly — however, when a man stakes his reputation on a promise that he has made, and that promise is ultimately kept, in this season of ‘political promises’ you have to give ‘props’ to those who keep to their word.
When Saraki tweeted ‘#MicDrop’ on Thursday morning, Nigerian Twitter — overlords and observers alike — stood still for a second, or a minute, maybe more. This was not because Saraki did not deserve his colloquial ‘accolades’, it was because for a second, a minute, maybe more, Nigerians started to pay attention to the fact that our Senate President has the capacity to deliver — and deliver well.
All around the world, political office holders are judged, celebrated or crucified based on their capacity to drive their own policy. Let’s take the United States as an example, Donald Trump was elected based on the anti-immigrant/pro-‘America First’ sentiment that characterized the end of the Obama years. This week, I read an article in USA Today titled, “Trump supporters across America: The president is delivering on his agenda.” People are starting to acknowledge — not necessary appreciate, but acknowledge — that Trump is driving his agenda and catering to his base.
Now, coming back home, we can see that Saraki has consciously, but surely, adhered to the legislative agenda he and his colleagues in the 8th Senate adopted in 2015. He has kept to his word, even when it has been difficult. He promised that the 8th National Assembly would be the first to pass the ‘much elusive’ Petroleum Industry Bill. Check. He delivered. He promised that the 8th National Assembly would open up its budget. Check again. He promised that this Senate, and by extension, this National Assembly would be the first to deliver increased funding for primary healthcare — in order to help reduce the prevalence of maternal mortality, infant mortality, child mortality, and of course, diseases like malaria that 97% of Nigerians are at risk for. He has delivered. Again. And then, he took it a step further, he led the Senate in the passage of CAMA.
For those that may be wondering, what all the fuss about this ‘CAMA’ Bill that has been trending on social media since Tuesday afternoon is — CAMA is a historic overhaul to Nigeria’s ‘doing business environment’ that will revolutionize how businesses are run and operated in the country.
Once adopted and assented to, CAMA will ensure that small and medium scale business-owners, or prospective business owners, will be able to bypass the legal fees (that usually start at about N70,000+) that they pay to lawyers to register their companies at the Corporate Affairs Commission. Additionally, in-line with international standards, business owners will now be able to register their companies from anywhere in the country — just as long as they have a smartphone or a laptop.
The passage of CAMA also means that unlike before, when a limited liability company needed to have two directors and a secretary on its board, one person can now register a small business — without having to employ a secretary or conduct the stipulated ‘annual general meeting’ of the board.
From delivering on the Access to Credit Bills last year — that have led to Nigerian lenders pushing out more loans to the SMEs; to the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, during the National Assembly’s #ConstitutionalReview exercise, to Saraki and his colleagues in the National Assembly, the inclusion of more young people in Nigeria’s business and political spaces is a priority.
Now that the 2018 budget has been passed; CAMA is about to become a reality; and primary healthcare for hundreds of millions of Nigerians is finally within reach — as a medical doctor and a former banker, Saraki’s vision as the President of the Senate and Chairman of the 8th National Assembly is coming alive before our very eyes as the people-centered priorities of the 8th Assembly are being actualized.
With more than a year to go before the 9th National Assembly is inaugurated, knowing Saraki’s penchant to deliver where others have stumbled in the past, surely, there will be many more #MicCheck moments over the next 13 months.
For now, we all watch in anticipation…
-Olu Onemola is the Special Assistant on New Media to the President of the Senate. He tweets at @OnemolaOlu.-