From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila have tasked President Muhammadu Buhari on the completion of all on-going projects in the 2023 fiscal year.
Lawan asserted that the country loses up to one million barrels daily. Lawan and Gbajabiamila, who spoke at the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari, to a joint session of the National Assembly, said the completion of the on-going projects is essential, especially as the tenure of the present administration will elapse next year.
The Senate President and the Speaker frowned on the spate of oil theft in the country, noting that the ugly development is affecting the revenue of the government.
Consequently, they charged the executive arm of government to see oil theft as economic sabotage and deal with the perpetrators accordingly.
Lawan, in his opening speech, said: “The last three Budgets have made generous provisions for different projects. While some have been completed, work on others are on-going at high paces. The 2023 Budget should therefore focus on completing a lot more. Mr President, I strongly believe that the 2023 Budget should target at completion of on-going projects, especially our legacy projects.
The Senate President lamented that the country’s economy is still challenged by paucity of revenue, especially as the main source of revenue remains oil and gas. He stated that unfortunately the idea of deploying revenue from oil and gas to support government diversification into real sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and mining amongst others is now under threat, owing to oil theft.
According to him, “the large scale and massive stealing of our oil reduces drastically the revenues available to the government. With conflicting figures, projections have put our losses from this malaise at between 700,000 to 900,000 barrels of crude oil per day, leading to about 29 to 35 per cent loss in oil revenue in the first quarter of 2022.
“This represents an estimated total fall from N1.1 trillion recorded in the last quarter of 2021 to N790 billion in the first quarter of this year. The situation has worsened. Recently, the loss of our oil has reached 1 million barrels per day. Translated into monetary terms, our loss is monumental. The figures show we are not able to meet the OPEC daily quota of 1.8million barrels per day.
“Mr President, I consider the oil thieves the worst enemies of our country. The thieves have declared war on our country and our people. I strongly feel that if we do not take the necessary measures to stop the thieves immediately, our economy will be devastated, as efforts to provide infrastructure and diversification of the economy would both be thwarted. It is time to take drastic and desperate measures against the thieves.
On his part, Gbajabiamila, in his vote of thanks, said the government must ensure that its priority projects and and policies are adequately funded, noting that it was the best opportunity to complete on-going projects, before the end of the present administration.
His words: “The 2023 Appropriation Act will be a budget of consolidation; our last, best opportunity to ensure that on-going projects across the country are completed before the end of the administration. Of course, government is a continuum, and it will fall to our successors in office to continue the development initiatives of this administration and see them to completion.”