Senate rejects panel report on fuel crisis, probes subsidy payment
• Reps summon Kachikwu, Baru, Umar
Allegations of unending corrupt practices in the oil industry as well as persisting scarcity of petrol across the country generated serious agitations and outpour of criticisms against the management of the oil industry on the floor of the Senate yesterday. And for failing to meet its expectations, the upper chamber rejected the report submitted by its Petroleum Resources (Downstream sector) Committee, which earlier investigated the matter.
The Senate declared that what the committee did was not a true representation of its integrity, adding that the failure of the Kabiru Marafa-led committee to investigate and expose the new wave of subsidy imposed by the Federal Government despite the absence of an approval by the National Assembly to that effect was unacceptable.
The Senate asked the committee to go back and do a more thorough investigation on the actual volume of petrol imported into the country as well as issues leading to the scarcity.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu to offer an insight over the payment of fuel subsidy by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).Also summoned over the issue were NNPC’s Group Managing Director (GMD), Maikanti Baru and the Executive Director of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA), Abdulkadir Saidu Umar.
The upper chamber however directed its Committee on Public Account to conduct an open investigation on reports of imposition of new fuel subsidy regime without the approval of the National Assembly.The motion to probe the re-introduction of subsidy was sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), who believed that the main issue that the senate should concern itself with is the alleged illegal subsidy.He said it would be an act of gross irresponsibility to spend money without appropriation.
According to Melaye, if brazing acts of corruption is allowed to persist in an administration that should be fighting corruption, it means we are not fighting corruption but entrenching abuse of power.He suggested that the executive arm of government must be made to refund all monies it spent without appropriation.
Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos State) said it was unfortunate that the same fraud that had always been perpetrated in the oil sector has persisted in this government.On why the report of the committee was rejected, Senate Minority leader, Godswill Akpabio, said, “the report does not represent the integrity of the senate.”
Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki noted that although the committee’s report attempted to address issues of scarcity and volume of petrol imported and consumed daily, it was not comprehensive enough.According to Saraki, if we are consuming 27 million litres of petrol per day and the NNPC brings in 40 million litres per day, what about the difference?
The committee in its report had said that the nation lost a total of N784 billion to what it called fraudulent practices in the import of fuel in 2017 alone.It put the total surplus in the volume of petrol imported in 2017 by both the NNPC and the marketers at 5.9 billion litres which when multiplied by the N133 landing cost gives N784 billion.
It noted that shortages in the volume of fuel claimed to have been supplied by the NNPC and the marketers were major factors that caused the scarcity of fuel.
The report further pointed out that “the marketers, on the other hand, received from government about N1, 669,180,182 at CBN rate of N305 to a dollar to import PMS from January to August 2017. This means that marketers were supposed to bring into the country about 3.8 billion litres of PMS at a landing cost of N133. In other words, marketers supply were supposed to serve the country for about 109 days at 35 million litres daily in 2017.
The Reps decision followed the adoption of a motion under matters of urgent national importance sponsored by Karimi Sunday (PDP, Kogi) during plenary. The aforementioned who are billed to appear before the House committees on Finance and Petroleum Resources downstream are to account for the monies expended on subsidizing fuel since January 2017.
The lawmakers who expressed disappointment with the executive arm for allegedly paying huge sum of monies as subsidy in breach of the 1999 constitution as amended urged the executive arm to make provision for subsidy payment in the 2018 Appropriation Bill if the need arises.