- Says security, improved revenue generation to top legislative agenda in 2022
Senate President Ahmad Lawan has said that Nigerians will remember the ninth Assembly under his leadership for its outstanding legislative achievements after the end of its lifespan in June 2023.
Lawan made this known on Wednesday when the Senate Press Corps paid a visit to felicitate with him on the occasion of his 63rd birthday in Abuja.
According to the Senate President, the upper chamber and by extension the National Assembly remains committed to serving the interest of Nigerians in the discharge of its constitutional duties.
He added that no amount of name-calling by critics would deter the upper chamber from considering and passing pro-people legislations needed for the development and advancement of the country.
Lawan said, “We believe that there is a price to pay for anything, but we are patriotic. Let us be called any name, what we want to do and achieve is for our country to be better.
“Tomorrow, some of these people that are calling us all types of names will be writing very good commentaries about what we have been able to achieve in this Ninth National Assembly.
“Majority of Nigerians are happy with what we are doing, we are not perfect, we make our errors and we will correct them.
“We identify with our citizens but we will always do what is in the best interest of our country,” Lawan said.
He disclosed that the National Assembly in 2022 would focus on security through oversight of funds appropriated in this year’s budget to the armed forces and security agencies.
He explained that doing so would guarantee transparency in the procurement process and ensure the welfare of military and security personnel tasked with restoring security across parts of the country.
“That takes me to the challenge for the National Assembly, particularly the Senate in 2022.
Lawan added that, “So far, we have done over ninety percent of what we set for ourselves in our legislative agenda, but because the country and people are dynamic, we have so many other things to do.
“Today, the security situation still begs for more attention. We will give a lot of attention to the security situation.
“We have appropriated about a trillion for our security agencies and armed forces, now it is for members of the National Assembly to ensure that the procurement process by the armed forces are transparent and everybody there is accountable.
“[And] of course, we should do oversight as much as possible for the welfare of our soldiers and security personnel. They need to continuously be motivated.”
The Senate President added that the upper chamber would also in the first-quarter of this year focus on addressing the challenges of revenue generation, collection and remittance to shore up earnings by the federal government.
According to him, an improvement to the country’s revenue figures would reduce Nigeria’s dependence on external borrowings for the execution of capital projects captured in the national budget.
“We still have a huge responsibility, and, in fact, it is something that we wanted to do last year, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic we couldn’t do so.
“This year, by the grace of God, we are going to resuscitate that plan, and it is to keep and maintain focus on revenue generation, collection and remittance.
“Our Revenue to GDP ratio is very low, and the economists will tell you Nigeria’s problem is not debt but revenue.
“So, if that is the case, it means those of us in government must focus on dealing with the challenges of revenue generation, revenue collection and remittance.
Lawan noted that, “This year, we are going to have engagements with the revenue generating agencies such as Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Customs, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and so on, on a quarterly basis, to have their targets set for them, and we want them to come and brief us on their performance every quarter.
“We hope to start the first meeting, which is an exploratory kind of meeting with them either this month or early February.
“We want to see how we can make positive difference in the area of revenue generation.
“Nobody likes taking loans, borrowing or accumulating debts, wether as an individual, a family, a community or as a country,” Lawan said.
“But what can you do when you’re not able to generate enough? We are as concerned as anybody else about our level of borrowing, even though we have not saturated, but if we can do better why not reduce, and the best way to reduce is to get more revenues from especially independent sources.
Lawan explained that, “The government owned enterprises are supposed to give us more money. In 2022, we are expecting maybe about a trillion, I’m not an economist, but I believe that we should be expecting maybe double or triple from them.
“We must support them, we must supervise them, and we must keep them on their toes for us to have more revenues in other to reduce the level of borrowing.”