The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the House was ready to empower the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) through enabling legislation to empower it to generate more revenue.
Gbajabiamila, who played host to the management team of the lottery commission led by the chairman of its board, Alhaji Ibikunle Fatai, said the House is willing to come up with relevant laws that would make Nigeria generate more revenue to fund her annual budgets.
The Speaker said: “Yours is a very important agency in terms of revenue generation. As you know, this time, revenue generation is key for us to be able to finance our budget the way we want to finance it. So, yours is a very important agency in terms of government expenditure.
Responding to a request by the chairman of the NLRC board for the House to amend the law setting up the agency for more efficiency, Gbajabiamila said though the House would be ready to do that, there was need to know what obtains at present.
“On the amendment of the enabling law, of course, law is very dynamic. Anytime there’s a need to amend the law to optimise and maximise the efficiency and your revenue profile, we are going to be very willing and ready to do that. But we need to know what the problems are, where you need to plug the holes
“On the Central Monitoring System, I know you have a lot of court cases right now. From what I have come to understand as the issue of Central Monitoring System, I think those things were left behind by the past administration.
“There’s also the nagging issue of state versus federal on who has the constitutional power to give permits and licenses to collect revenue.
“In spite of these challenges you were bedevilled with, I want to commend you, because you have been able to raise your revenue to a very considerable extent.
“Yes, considerable, but we are not there yet because we can go higher. Whatever is going to be required like the Central Monitoring System, to help you get to that point where yours, a stand-alone agency that generates a good percentage of our revenue, then we will definitely do that.
“This is because right now, without that, there are so many leakages. So many players out there, who under-report to you what they are generating. So we have to do this in accordance with international best practices. That is why as a House, we have to put those laws in place,” the Speaker said.
The Speaker also called on both the board and the management of the agency to work together for harmony so that the lottery commission could generate more funds.
Earlier, the chairman of the commission’s board, Alhaji Fatai, said they were in the Speaker’s office to congratulate him on his emergence as the Number 4 Citizen as well as table their plight.
“Lottery commission is a revenue-generating agency, and we’ve been doing our best to do that. But the Act that set up the commission has deficiencies, and we have done some amendments, which we will forward to the Speaker.
“There’s the issue of a central monitoring system. We don’t have enabling law for us to prosecute those that don’t pay. We’re just trying to make sure that we generate revenue. We need an enabling law that will empower us.
“We appeal to the House to give the amendments accelerated passage. We want to establish the Nigerian National Game, that’s part of our proposal. That will enhance our revenue-generating base,” he said.