Fuel Crisis: Senators accuse colleagues of conniving with NNPC

by 18/01/2018 00:00:00 0 comments 1 Views

Lawmakers in the upper chamber on Wednesday took turns to condemn the report of the Senate committee on Petroleum (Downstream), for not including the issue of fuel subsidy.

The senators alleged that the report was ‘doctored’ by the management of the Nigeria National Petroleum Commission.

The chairman of the committee, Kabir Marafa, Zamfara-APC, was singled out for blame for not including the issue of fuel subsidy which they alleged the executive is paying for without National Assembly’s approval.

Presenting the report, Mr. Marafa proposed five measures as long term solutions for the lingering crisis.

He said, “As part of short term measures, the federal government should consider special foreign exchange concession to oil marketers to enable them commence importation of fuel and sell at approved N145 per litre.

“Two, federal government should consider giving waiver on payment of Nigerian Ports Authority, NIMASA and the Customs service and others to make the landing cost lower. This is because it is established beyond reasonable doubt that the landing cost of PMS today is N171 and government has fixed it at N145 per litre. Therefore, for us to move forward, we have to find a way of bringing the landing cost down.

“Three, we are going to operate two price regimes. Marketers selling at deregulated rate while NNPC sell at the approved N145. But there is the fear that NNPC will be selling to the marketers who will sell at higher prices.

“Four, federal government should consider having special tax holiday to oil marketers as a way of subsidising imports.

“Five is complete deregulation. The federal government should consider deregulating the PMS, AGO and kerosene market.”

Atai Aidoko Ali, whose status as senator remains under controversy, was the first to comment on the report. He alleged that the report was written by NNPC and not the committee.

“This is the first time I won’t be commending a committee of this Senate for doing a job,” the lawmaker, who was sacked by the appeal court but still continues to hold on to the seat, said “Mr. President, this report from this committee, to me, does not contain the issues, it does not address the problems that made you call this committee to sit. If we are not talking about subsidy, then what are we talking about? This looks like a report of NNPC.”

Next was Nafada Bayero, Gombe-APC, who questioned Mr. Marafa on submitting five conflicting recommendations on an issue.

“I have read these recommendation, the only recommendation that may stand is for the federal government to completely deregulate the PMS. That is the only recommendation that will stand. Otherwise, these recommendations as far as I am concerned look like a report that is imported or that is written by somebody, not from this Senate. If it is a report of this Senate, they can’t bring about five different recommendations on same issue. Mr. President, may I call on this committee to go back and work again and bring a report of its own, not one that was influenced by outsiders.”

Thereafter, Stella Oduah, Anambra-PDP, tagged the report as ‘unfair’ and ‘biased.’

“This is supposed to be a technical report. Mr. President, this (report) will not stand the test of time. This is unfair report. Very, very unfair and extremely biased report,” she said.

Mr. Marafa in a bid to clear the allegations rose to inform his colleagues that the report was only an interim report and that the recommendations was based on the submissions of parties invited to the public hearing. But the senators were not satisfied by his explanation.

Dino Melaye, Kogi-APC, asked the lawmakers to mandate the executive to refund all money spent on subsidy without appropriation.

“Mr. President, this report if adopted will only continue to empower the corruption that is already ongoing in the oil sector in this country. What we ought to be debating here is the corruption that is going on in the oil industry, in NNPC and the reason why our oil industry has failed but nothing of such was mentioned in this report. This report rather is energising the corruption that is already ongoing.

“It is true that marketers may not be able to sell at N145 but is abominable for any government to spend government money without appropriation by the National Assembly. All money that was spent without appropriation should be refunded and approach the Senate for proper appropriation. Mr. President, I am particularly asking the committee to go back, become born again, sit down, do a holy exercise and come up with resolutions.”

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, resolved that the committee should review the report and come up with a final report that should reflects all the views raised.

Shortly after plenary, Mr. Marafa explained why he neglected subsidy in the interim report. He noted that the committee was more pre-occupied with knowing the volume of fuel consumed than to establish the amount of subsidy paid and diversions.

“The perspective I am looking at this is that I want to look at the volume of litres. I want to establish to all Nigerians what is the demand of Nigerians. Unless you know that, you can never know what amount of subsidy you are paying.

“When this committee was called upon, our mandate was to look into the lingering fuel crisis. I stand by my report. What the committee did was the most appropriate. We cannot be talking about N26 subsidy when we don’t even know the volume of fuel we consume. It has been established even before we went into the public hearing that we are back in subsidy regime and we said it in the report. All stakeholders attested to the fact that the landing cost is N171. Do we now go back discussing the same thing?”

“In our report we have stated that they collected a sum of $1.7 billion of Nigeria’s money at N305 to bring products and we are saying that this amount of money is enough to bring at least one hundred days’ supply at 35 million per day. Where is it? And somebody wants me to go back and discuss an issue everybody knows. NNPC, you say you are bringing 30 cargoes of 30 thousand metric tonnes per day. We said from what you have told us now, this supply is supposed to last Nigeria 35 days, not 30 days. There is a surplus of five days and if you multiply it by 12, that is surplus for 60 days. If you add the marketers surplus of 100 days they are supposed to bring, that is 160 days. Even if Nigeria is consuming 100 million litres per day, we are not supposed to be in scarcity today. The committee has been able to establish that there is a surplus of over 5 billion litres. Where is this surplus and why are we in this situation?” he questioned.

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