By Tunde Opalana
Oil theft and production sabotage in the south- south petroleum producing region has become major threat to Nigeria’s economy.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan who said this expressed worries that generation and collection of revenues from the oil sector have remained major challenges due to massive loss of revenue through oil theft and vandalisation of infrastructure.
He said this on Tuesday while welcoming his colleagues from the seven weeks annual recess.
Lawan said “revelations about the scale of oil theft shows that, until government takes decisive actions, Nigeria could soon lose any revenue from that sector.”
He, therefore, charged his colleagues to “ensure that everything is done to curtail this theft.”
According to him, the nation’s economy “is still challenged” and stressed the need for the National Assembly and the Executive to continually seek for better responses to the economic situation.
Specifically, he said their focus must remain on ensuring a secured and safe country and an economy that works for all citizens.
“In the next nine months, our attention and devotion should bring improvement to the current situations. This Senate is a Senate that will continue to work for all Nigerians at all times,” he said.
Presenting the Senate agenda for the next three months, the Senate President said this include; the confirmation of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, work on 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategic Paper, MTEF/FSP, 2022 budget and working to support the nation’s defence and security forces.
Lawan added that President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to present the 2023 budget estimates to the joint session of the National Assembly in the first week of October.
“The ninth Senate has established the practice of processing the annual Appropriation Bill of each year between October and December. I commend distinguished Senators for this achievement and a legacy that has changed the annual budgetary cycle of the federal government,” he said.
The Senate President, however, reminded his colleagues that they have resumed to continue with the very good work they have done in the last three years.
“As we all know, this resumption marks the final session of our tenure. The Ninth Senate has nine months to conclude its tenure.
“Like the last three years, we are prepared to make the remaining period very productive and successful. No doubt that, the Ninth Senate has performed creditably and will end very well. We scored so many feats and broke many jinxes through various legislative interventions. I must commend all of us for the commitment, dedication and patriotism and sense of duty,” he stressed.
Lawan recalled the “serious concerns” of the Senate on the security situation in the country and expressed happiness on the successes recorded so far by the security agencies.
Nonetheless, he promised that the Senate would continue to engage with the defence and security agencies through its appropriate committees, to ensure that the engagements are sustained, commending them for stepping up their operations.
On the 2023 general elections, he said the Senate, indeed the National Assembly will work with Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC) to ensure very successful, transparent and credible elections.
“We are ready to support INEC in all possible ways as a legislature. Already, the timely amendment of the Electoral Act 2022 has provided very important innovations in ensuring better electoral climate,” he said.