10th January, 2014
Femi Gbajabiamila representing Surulere Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives believes that over reliance on crude oil in Nigeria has made many Nigerians lazy.
Gbajabiamila, the minority leader in the house, said the government should begin to consider alternative income for the country. He said this at the second anniversary and annual lecture of the January Collective with the theme: Nigeria Beyond Petrodollars.
Gbajabiamila said the House of Representative has placed a premium on improving the income stream of the country. “In the last three budgets circle, the issue of agriculture has been taken very seriously. The House of Reps has actually added to proposals from the Ministry of Agriculture because it has found it important,” he said.
He noted that despite the fact that Nigeria made about N8trillion from oil last year, it cannot finance the federal budget.
“We heard the minister of finance (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) say Nigeria cannot finance the budget and most of these can be tied to oil theft. The statement of the minister alone tells us to look elsewhere and rely less on oil. It is oil reliance that allows us to do things that are illegal or unconstitutional like oil benchmark,” he said.
He added that the constitution states that all revenue should go into the federal government revenue account and not an alternative account.
“Oil has made us lazy in this country and we need to go back to what we used to do before oil. The benchmark is a clever way of getting appropriation from the government. If we operate a system that is accountable nobody will vote to drop the benchmark because you will not be voted for in the next election. The benchmark means that we short change the states we represent.”
He stated some members of the House of Representative have filed a case against the benchmark.
“We believe all revenue should go into the federation account and should be shared amongst all tier of government.”
Gbajabiamila advised that alternative economic options should be adopted. “There have been predictions that Nigeria will cease to become an oil producing state in 30 years and that is why we must activate other alternatives like agriculture.
Last year, taxation accounted for N5trillion and I believe we need to do more in taxation because it is one source we should look at in increasing our financial base. There’s sports and tourism too.”