Oil Theft Will No Longer Be Acceptable – Saraki



* Names Minority Principal Officers

Oscar Chukwugekwu, Abuja

The Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday declared that oil theft will no longer be an acceptable part of Nigeria’s oil business.

This is even as the Senate also announced the principal officers of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Saraki reminded elected public office holders that they cannot afford to frolic, as Nigerians did not give them their mandate to pursue leadership, but to pursue governance, and bring solutions to their burning issues.

In his welcome speech, after a five-week recess, Saraki observed that Nigeria’s revenue profile has taken a great hit with the present economic realities.

“Aside the drop in the oil receipt, we have seen revenues plummet due to oil thefts, indiscriminate grants of numerous import duty waivers, concessions and grants. Nigerians want to see the National Assembly tackle these obscenities in our revenue systems, as it denies our people the right to good governance.

“Distinguished colleagues, our country is passing through a difficult time. We cannot afford to watch the mind boggling leakages in our oil receipt to go on. This Senate is in tandem with Mr. President (Muhammadu Buhari) on this, and is determined to turn every stone and shift every rock to ensure that all revenues due to the country from oil are recovered. We are not the only oil producing country in the world; oil theft cannot, therefore, become an acceptable part of our oil business.

“Furthermore, Nigerians are tired of the inadequacies in the power sector and want to see a reinvigorated power sector (that is) capable of delivering enough energy to power the new Nigerian economy. Our people dream to see a more open economy. They want to see legislative instruments that will help to open and stimulate private sector investment in infrastructure development, and enhance the ease of doing business in the country,” he declared.

Saraki expressed sadness on the resurgence in the activities of Boko Haram and some other criminal elements in the country, which led to the death of many of Nigerians.

Saraki, who claimed that the aim of the militant groups is to test Nigeria’s resolve and disintegrate her unity, urged the international community to join in the collective resolve to win the fight against the Islamist sect.

“We cannot continue to let senseless groups cause untimely death to our citizens without hindrance. This is another sad addition to the cocktail of security challenges we can ill-afford at this time.

“In the coming days, I will constitute a high powered Senate delegation to visit our troops on the battle line and some of our internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North-East to have a firsthand appreciation of the challenges, the suffering and plight that (have) befallen our people in the area. Soon afterwards, we shall, working together with the House (of Representatives), develop concrete steps towards the rehabilitation and renewal of the battered local economy of the North-East.

“Make no mistake about it, the aim of these militant groups is simple, to test our resolve and disintegrate our unity. But let me reiterate the readiness and willingness of the National Assembly to support and work with President Muhammadu Buhari to comprehensively rout Boko Haram. We join Mr. President in saying: ‘that we will defeat terrorism in our country and region because we have the will to win this fight.’ Our resolve is collective, we urge all friends of Nigeria, including the United States and the entire international community to join us,” he appealed.

He reminded elected public officers that Nigerians did not elect them to pursue leadership, added that the job of changing Nigeria’s corporate destiny has already started, despite the huge challenges.

“Their mandate was for us to pursue governance and bring solutions to their burning issues. It is time we remind ourselves of the solemn promise to deliver to our people real change. Leadership is secondary to our primary responsibility of good governance.

“As Senate President, you have given me responsibility to ensure that our primary responsibility is placed on the table, not under the table. Nigerians did not put their lives on the line for politics, but for the delivery of good governance.

“My distinguished colleagues, the job of changing our corporate destiny starts today. Though the challenges are huge, they are not insurmountable. Let (these) challenges inspire us as leaders to show courage, statesmanship and valour. We have taken the right first steps out. We must now set out at dawn. We do not have all the time; indeed, our clock is ticking,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Senate President has announced the officers of the minority PDP in the Upper Chamber.

The quartet of minority principal officers were led by the immediate past Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who was named as the Senate Minority Leader.

Others are: Senator Emmanuel Bwacha from Taraba State as the Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Philip Aduda from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as the Senate Minority Whip and Senator Biodun Olujimi from Ekiti State as the Deputy Minority Whip.

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