Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, yesterday constituted a joint committee to engage the Executive Arm of government on measures to insulate the nation’s economy against the impact of the sudden crash of crude oil prices globally.
The resolution of the upper chamber followed a point of order moved by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North) during plenary.
The committees mandated by the Senate to liaise with the executive include: the Senate Committees on Finance; National Planning, Appropriation and Petroleum (Upstream).
In his remarks, Lawan said, “the issue of the current situation affecting the entire world, and the second we are suffering from today is the crash in the price of crude.
“We passed the Fiscal Strategy Paper and MTEF, and subsequently the budget, on the benchmark price of $57 per barrel.
“Today, that price has crashed to $31 or thereabouts, and we don’t know where this will stop.
“And of course, the economy of our country depends largely on the export of crude.
“Now, this is a real situation that is starring us in the face. As a parliament, we need to be proactive and up-to-date with the situation, so that we are also able to take a decision when it matters for us to do so.”
“Therefore, I will suggest here, that in order for this Senate to be proactive and to protect whatever will be the situation for Nigeria to implement the budget in a way and manner that will positively affect the lives of our citizens, we form a joint committee.
“This joint committee will continue to engage with people in government, as well as people outside of government, so as to be abreast with all necessary information.
“The committee will engage with the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, and any other Ministry that you feel you need to have engagement with for you to have information.”
Abdullahi in his motion raised the alarm on the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), which has led to the crash of several markets across the world.
He urged Nigerians “to hope for the best but prepare for the worst” in view of the low crude prices.
“Our committees should be prepared, so that whatever happens, we hope this crisis does not last for long, but if it does, we have to be prepared,” Abdullahi said
He urged the joint committee to come up with workable strategies that will be harmonised with those of the Executive arm of government with a view to stemming the impact of the oil price crash on the economy.
The joint committee was given one week to report back to the Senate.