Senate to grill Kachikwu, Baru on fuel scarcity today

nigeria-senate

The Senate will today question the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu; and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, over the current crisis in the supply chain of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol.

Also to appear before the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) are regulatory bodies, marketers and other stakeholders in the petroleum sector.

The investigative hearing, which will hold in Room 231 at the Senate wing of the National Assembly Complex, is expected to be aired live by the Nigerian Television Authority.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, had last Thursday directed the committee to cut short its recess and immediately convene a meeting with stakeholders in the petroleum sector over the current scarcity of petrol.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, had on Friday raised questions on the alleged payment of N26 per litre to subsidise the pump price of petrol, which the NNPC put its landing cost at N171 but sells at N145.

He had asked how the Federal Government, through the NNPC, was maintaining a pump price of N145 per litre when the landing cost of the commodity was now N171.

Marafa and Chairman of the Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, who jointly addressed journalists on the matter in Abuja on Friday, stated that the Senate was set to move against anybody or organisation found to have caused the crisis.

According to Mafara, those to be grilled include the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, and the Department of Petroleum Resources.

Marafa had said, “While this problem is raging, we hear of accusations and counter-accusations from the NNPC, IPMAN, DAPMAN and MOMAN, with letters flying all over the place over hoarding and sabotage.

“Part of what we are going to ask is, we were told that there is subsidy. If there is subsidy, who approved the subsidy? We are the only ones who can appropriate money (for the government), nobody else. That is why the Senate spoke resoundingly before going on recess when they talked about taking $1bn (from the Excess Crude Account) to fight insurgency. Nobody can take any money without the approval of the Senate. If you do that, you are breaching the provisions of the Constitution.”

He added, “So, if you are going to provide for subsidy, you have to come to the parliament. We need to know and that is part of what we are going to ask.

“Now, if they say there is subsidy when the price (of petrol) rose to N145, the common belief by all Nigerians was that subsidy was gone and gone for good. Now, they are telling us that the landing cost of petrol is N171. If it is N171, who approved the subsidy or payment of the remaining balance? Where is it buried? Who appropriated it? What are we going to do in the next few days, months and years to come? We need to address these issues squarely because a lot of Nigerians are misinformed about this subsidy issue.

“Between 2006 and the figures we have for 2016, the NNPC alone got N5.1tn for subsidy, while the marketers collected over N4tn. Put them together, we are talking of over N10tn spent on subsidy. I am asking, what is the impact of these monies that are being paid on our behalf to subsidise petroleum products? Why are we afraid? If we take the N10tn to the road sector or railway, power, agriculture, what are we going to expect?

“We need to ask some very honest questions. We should not be sentimental about these things.”

The lawmaker had also hinted that the panel would seek a review of the supply policy adopted by the current administration.   

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