The House of Representatives on Tuesday unveiled plans to conduct a thorough investigation into allegations relating to ‘extra budgetary spending,’ to the tune of N24 billion monthly on payment of fuel subsidy between 2017 and 2018.
Ibrahim Babangida, Chairman, House Committee on Finance, disclosed this during a scheduled meeting with Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance, Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The House had in a motion passed on the 17th January, 2018 mandated both committees on Finance and Petroleum Resources, Downstream to probe the fuel subsidy payments that was not appropriated by the National Assembly.
Recall that Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had on Sunday, March 4, (2018) said a total sum of N774 million in subsidy was being paid daily on 50 million litres of petrol, consumed across the country.
The meeting was however rescheduled, following the boycott of the investigative hearing held at the instance of the House of Representatives’ joint Committees on Finance and Petroleum Resources (Downstream) by the invited ministers and the NNPC management team.
Ruling on the outcome of the meeting which lasted for about 25 minutes, Babangida said: “We shall start a full scale public hearing on the issue. We must get to the bottom of this matter and know who pays the difference if the landing cost of fuel is N160 and control price is N145.
“All the invitees from the Minister of Finance to NNPC GMD, failed show up except the PPPRA, which had earlier submitted all the essential information we needed but unfortunately we cannot take you.
“They all failed to show up to explain why the landing cost of fuel is between N160 to N170 and we don’t know their source of funding the gap between the control price of N145 and N170.
“As we speak, no subsidy payment was captured in the 2017 budget and even the 2018 budget proposals, nothing was mentioned about subsidy payment, so the question is who has been funding the gap so far.
“Since they all failed to show up, we will commence a full public hearing on the issue and get to the bottom of the matter as PPPRA cannot be taken.
“You are on track, as we have seen the template you submitted which has confirmed our fears that we pay more on fuel but you failed to come with your Executive Secretary,” Babangida noted.
Sunday Adepoju (APC-Oyo) urged the joint Committee to invoke relevant sections of the House Rules and Constitution (as amended) with a the view to compel the appearance of the invited stakeholders.
“According to our rules, since no letter was sent and no representatives and only one agency out of the lot we invited showed up, I think the House should take the appropriate action against the agencies by suspending this hearing immediately,” Adepoju urged.
Meanwhile, the Committees resolved to walk-out officials of the Petroleum Product Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) over improper representation.
Recall that Kola Ologodinya, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Publicity Secretary, via a statement issued recently, had expressed concern over the failure of the present administration to respond to public agitations on the leaked memo on corrupt oil contracts.
“In reeling out its figures, the presidency has forgotten that Nigerians are still waiting for its explanation on the leaked memo showing alleged corrupt oil contracts at the NNPC, to the tune of N9 trillion ($25 billion dollars). The presidency has also refused to offer explanations on the alleged involvement of its officials in various sneaky oil subsidy deals and reported diversion of N1.1 trillion worth of crude, last year, to service APC interests,” Ologodiyan said into the statement.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja