Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, addressed criticisms received in response to a sarcastic comment during a recent plenary session.
The comment, “Let the poor breathe,” was made in reference to stopping tariff hikes by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and distribution companies (DisCos).
During a motion presented by Senator Akintunde Abiodun of Oyo State, Akpabio employed the phrase, leading to public scrutiny and criticism.
In a statement released on July 27, Akpabio clarified that his comment was not intended as an insult to citizens. He acknowledged the current hardships experienced due to the high cost of living in the country.
His statement explained the intention behind the joke, “was to firmly reject any plan of increasing electricity tariffs for Nigerians, considering the ongoing economic challenges that Nigerians are faced with.”
The Senate President emphasized his commitment to combating rising electricity costs for the benefit of Nigerian citizens.
He further stated, “We are deeply concerned about the negative tilting of a very harmless statement by President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, about his deep concern and that of the Senate on the plight of the ordinary Nigerians as a result of the prevailing economic situation in the country.
“Let The People Breathe’ made during the Plenary on 26th July 2023, was made by Senator Akintunde Abiodun while speaking on the motion to halt the planned electricity tariff hike.
“We want to assure the general public that all matters discussed during Senate sessions are of utmost importance and are treated with great seriousness by the President of the Senate and his Distinguished colleagues
“It is crucial to clarify that the intentions of the mover of the motion and the comments of the President of the Senate were never to make light of the hardships, suffering and economic challenges faced by Nigerians at this critical juncture.
“The purpose of the proposal was to firmly reject any plan of increasing electricity tariffs for Nigerians, considering the ongoing economic challenges that Nigerians are faced with.
“The primary focus of the current National Assembly under the Chairmanship of Senator Akpabio is on the implementation of effective and well-structured policies that truly benefit the people. He has repeatedly assured Nigerians that the current Senate will work for all Nigerians.
“The President of the Senate deeply empathises with Nigerians and has never considered the current economic crisis in the country as a matter of jest. His unwavering commitment lies in serving the best interests of the Nigerian people with the release of the ministerial list and the subsequent screening and swearing-in of the ministers, we have high hopes that the newly appointed officials will promptly address the challenges and bring the much-needed relief and succour to all citizens thereby, easing the current hardship and pains experienced by Nigerians.”