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2023 Budget: Reps urge Buhari to treat oil theft as treason

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The House of Representatives has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to treat those engaged in oil theft as commuting treason against the country.

The Speaker of the House of Reps, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila said this while making his remark at the presentation of 2023 appropriation Bill to the joint session of the National Assembly by the President in Abuja on Friday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that President Muhammadu Buhari presented before the two chambers of the National Assembly, a record N20.51 trillion proposed budget for the 2023 financial year.

The N20.51 trillion budget which is the highest so far in the nation’s history, is the last to be presented by the president before his tenure elapses.

Gbajabiamila said that the position of the House was that their actions constituted treason against the country, for which they and their enablers must be held accountable to the fullest extent permitted by law.

He said that Nigerians no longer wanted to hear about crude oil theft, adding that the question had become what “are we doing about it.”

“Mr President, permit me to convey the disquiet in the House of Reps arising from the reports of a massive decline in the volume of crude oil exports due primarily to theft and diversion by criminal elements.

“It is the sense of the House of Reps that those engaged in these activities are agents of economic sabotage determined to bring our country to its knees,” he said.

He called for a swift and systemic overhaul the systems in place to protect the country’s oil and gas resources, adding that the arrangements in place were no longer adequate.

He said that there was an obvious need for improvements to stop the loss of income occasioned by the ongoing sabotage.

“This is especially so at this time when the conditions of our national finances require significant borrowing to finance government operations, sustain investments in infrastructure and national security and improve the living conditions of the Nigerian people.

” It is noteworthy that Mr President, the President of the Senate and my good self, without comparing notes dwelt extensively on this subject. This underscores its importance and the imperative to act and act quickly.”

He urged heads of Ministries, Departments and executive agencies that NASS expected thorough accounting for previous appropriations, disbursements and expenditures.

He said where such accounts were not forthcoming, NASS would demand from them, adding that it would also exercise the full authority of parliament to hold to account those who fail to provide the records.

He said there was need to make informed decisions on the appropriation bill, adding that it was a priority for NASS to wind down and began to compile its service records for history and as a guide to those who would continue.

He said NASS would build on the President’s efforts to deliver an appropriation Act that would provide real solutions to national problems, unlocks economic potential and secures the country.
He added that it would join the president to bring a future that “we can all look forward to and be proud of.”

“I assure you the national assembly will prioritise this bill and ensure it passed before the end of the year, as is the practice in the 9th Assembly.

He however said that it would not in the quest for timely passage, failed to do due diligence expected of it by the Nigerian people.

He added that the reforms to the budget process initiated in the 9th Assembly had helped streamline the appropriations process and the oversight system.

.”We have set a standard for others to match or answer for, this is to the credit of all those who worked to achieve these outcomes, particularly the senators and honourable members.(NAN)

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