Reps begins fuel subsidy probe, subpoenas minister
• NUPRC affirms status quo in ExxonMobil/Seplat Energy share deal
The House of Representatives has launched an investigation to ascertain the actual amount of money being expended on fuel subsidy in the country.
The lower legislative chamber is alarmed by claims of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, that the Federal Government will spend N6.7 trillion on subsidy next year.
At the investigative hearing of the special ad hoc committee on petroleum products’ subsidy regimes in Nigeria from 2017 to 2021, yesterday, in Abuja, the lawmakers deplored the minister’s failure to honour its invitation.
The panel, therefore, summoned her to appear before it next Tuesday and make available relevant documents before August 16.
Ibrahim Almustapha Aliyu-led committee sent back the Director, Home Finance, in the ministry, Stephen Okon, who stood in for the minister, insisting that she must appear in person.
The legislators threatened to make the minister a scapegoat to show their seriousness to others, especially heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs), found ignoring their summons.
Besides, they sought to know the incorporation status of Sahara Energy, which turned in a representative, Uroma Benson Okoh, in respect of the firm’s transactions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC).
Unimpressed by Okoh’s responses to the lawmakers’ questions concerning the company’s legal status, the committee, consequently, ordered the firm to re-appear on August 16, just as it called for submissions from the ministry and other relevant stakeholders regarding fuel subsidy during the period under review
MEANWHILE, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has affirmed that the status quo remains in respect of ExxonMobil/Seplat Energy share acquisition.
Responding to media enquiries on latest development about the transaction, NUPRC’s Chief Executive, Gbenga Komolafe, in a statement he personally signed, clarified that the commission, in line with provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, is the sole regulator that could deal with such matters in the nation’s upstream sector.
He said: “As it were, the issue at stake is purely a regulatory matter and the Commission had earlier communicated the decline of ministerial assent to ExxonMobil in this regard. As such, the Commission further affirms that the status quo remains.
“The Commission is committed to ensuring predictable and conducive regulatory environment at all times in the Nigerian upstream sector.”