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President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said that Oil theft in the country was pushing Nigeria’s economy into a state of coma, lamenting that generation and collection of revenues have remained Nigeria’s major challenges.
According to him, massive loss of revenue through oil theft which is debilitating and threatening to throw the economy into a serious confusion.
Speaking on Tuesday in Abuja in his welcome address to fellow Senators resumption from the 7 – week recess, Lawan who urged his colleagues to ensure that everything was done to curtail the sabotage seriously bleeding the Nation’s economy, specifically declared that their focus must remain on ensuring a secured and safe country and an economy that works for all citizens.
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.
“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 added that 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, among others, would largely be the focus of the upper legislative chamber in the next three months.
The President of the Senate who noted 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, 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.
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 that the Senate, indeed the National Assembly will work with Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC) to ensure very successful, transparent and credible elections, adding, “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.”
Meanwhile at resumption of the Senate yesterday, most journalists attached to the Senate were unable to directly source their news reports on Tuesday as lawmakers returned to work after their annual recess.
Only 4 cameramen and about 6 reporters were allowed into the hearing room 022 that served as make-shift chamber for lawmakers to monitor proceedings.
The remaining Journalists who had turned out early for the coverage of plenary were completely shut out and were required to depend on those allowed inside to cover the proceedings; leaving many of them feeling impeded from doing their work.
Worried about the situation, Special Adviser(Media), to the President of the Senate, Ola Awoniyi who had to intervene by appealing to Journalists to bear with the situation. however explained that the decision to downsize on the number of journalists allowed into the make-shift chamber was because of the renovation work in the regular red chamber; stressing that the blackout of reporters will only be temporary pending the time the ICT and engineering services will be able to send feeds through the official television of the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (NASSTV) to the Media Centre where journalists are expected to watch from a 50″ colour television.
The situation was not the first time Journalists covering the Senate have had to work in this kind of condition where they are restricted to watch plenary from the Media Centre and denied access to monitor proceedings from the gallery.
The arrangement began sometimes towards the last days of the 8th Assembly and the trend has been eagerly sustained in the 9th Assembly in the aftermath of the outbreak of Covid-19.
Against this backdrop, the Executive Director, International Centre for Investigative Reporting(ICIR), Dayo Aiyetan at a recent training for journalists in Abuja condemned the arrangement that seemed to impede journalists from independently sourcing for their news in the parliament.
According to him, the standard procedure in parliamentary reporting is to allow journalists unfettered access to the gallery, the library and other facilities that can aid them in writing their stories.
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