The Senate has given its backing to the move by the Federal Government to implement the Oronsanye report on rationalisation of government agencies to cut cost of government and drive national development.
Chairman of the Senate committee on finance, Solomon Olamilekan confirmed this while addressing heads of government agencies at the ongoing interactive session on the 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (2023-2025 MTEF-FSP) in Abuja.
He said that implementation of the report would help the dire revenue situation of the country.
“There is no way with the current economic situation that we will not implement Oronsanya report, it is part of the report that some staff will stay while others have to go because the government can no longer continue to fund agencies that are liabilities and government cannot continue to be a Father Christmas “.
Olamilekan, however, disclosed that any government agency that generates enough revenue toward national development would not be affected by the rationalisation.
He warned that MDAs risk zero budget allocation in 2023 budget over the non-appearance of their chief executives at Senate interactive session to give their inputs on the 2023-2025 MTEF-FSP.
“The Senate has the right to summon anybody and we can as well take it that when you don’t appear, it means you do not need allocation in the 2023 budget,” Olamilekan said.
Olamilekan knocked the group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari for failing to honour the invitation by the committee to clarify issues regarding crude oil production, fuel subsidy, and local fuel consumption, among others.
The lawmaker said that the NNPC liaison officer claimed that since the agency is now a limited liability company, therefore, the Senate has no legal backing to summon the agency.
In his reaction, the committee chairman said the law passed by the National Assembly only empowers the NNPC to be an active participant in the oil industry, adding that the Federal Government still owns the agency 100 percent until there are major investors in the agency.
“We will summon you and invite you at any hour, we need your attention; you are a limited liability company by our law. We change your status because we want you to be an active participant in the oil industry.
“Call your liaison officer and correct his impression; NNPC is owned by the Federal Government and you remain accountable to the government,” he stressed.
The NNPC GMD was later directed to appear before the committee on Thursday.
Olamilekan said the call to diversify from crude oil to other agricultural commodity products became necessary, given the increasing dwindling revenue profile of the nation.
He said there was a new economic order in Nigeria that required MDAs to think of alternatives to improve the revenue profile of the country.
Olamilekan said the emphasis at the moment was how best to earn more foreign exchange, adding that cocoa, groundnut and palm oil were major foreign exchange sources for Nigeria in the past.
“We are having a shortfall in daily crude oil production and so we must make frantic steps to bring back the groundnut, coco, rubber and palm oil produce to earn more foreign exchange for Nigeria.”
He said the Senate was committed to ensuring the setting up of the required regulatory bodies to drive the production of the commodity products.
He also called for the provision of relevant data on monthly, yearly production and sale of coco from the National Coco Research Institute.
Some of the organisations that made presentations at the programme include the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Voice of Nigeria (VON), and National Lottery Commission among others.