BEVERLY HILLS, February 11, (THEWILL) – The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engr. Andrew Yakubu, and the Managing Director of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Monday shunned the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (downstream) investigating the kerosene subsidy.
This is the second time the lower House of the National Assembly would be delving into oil subsidy having earlier in 2012 investigated petroleum subsidy, under the headship of Hon. Farouk Lawan, which became a scandal.
The investigation, which had been postponed twice, could not hold as the chairman of the committee, Hon. Peterside Dakuku, informed stakeholders who had waited for several hours that without the minister, the NNPC and the PPMC, it will be pretty difficult for his committee to go ahead with the probe. The committee therefore fixed, February 18 as the new date for the investigation.
Dakuku said he had received letters from the minister, the GMD NNPC and the managing director PPMC, explaining their various engagements, which made it impossible for them to honour the committee invitation.
“We are now compelled in this circumstance to once again put off the public hearing. We are adjourning to Tuesday, 18th February but we want to assure Nigerians that we owe them every responsibility to unearth every expenditure and subsidy on kerosene,” Peterside said.
The chairman noted that while the NNPC procures, the PPMC is the sole importer of kerosene, so there can never be any proper investigation if they are absent. He assured Nigerians that the committee would do a good job and unearth the secret surrounding the kerosene subsidy.
He however expressed happiness that some non-governmental organisations had expressed willingness to assist the committee in carrying out the investigation.
According to him, the Revenue Watch Institute and the Centre for Social Justice have all sent memoranda to the committee on their readiness to testify and assist in providing useful information.
A letter sent to the committee and signed by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Danladi Kifasi, said the minister “will be participating in the International Summit on Power Financing starting today, 10th February, 2014. As a result, we regret to inform you of our inability to honour your invitation.”
On their part, both the NNPC and PPMC, in separate but similar letters signed by M.B.Bamanga and Engr. G.O. Komolafe respectively said they were engaged with the Senate Committee on Finance.
The committee also expressed dismay with the attitude of the minister, the NNPC and the PPMC towards the investigation but insisted that the House would not be deterred in going ahead with the exercise.
The House had in November 2013 mandated the Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to conduct an investigative hearing on the expenditure and subsidy on kerosene.
The committee was also asked to ascertain the actual amount spent on kerosene subsidy from 2010 to 2013; establish the source of the money used in financing kerosene subsidy and the relevant budgetary approval; determine the companies benefiting from the subsidy; establish the extent (if any) to which the subsidised kerosene gets to the consumers at the regulated price and also investigate all incidental issues relating to kerosene supply and distribution.
The decision was the outcome of a motion moved by Hon. Adeyinka Ajayi (APC, Osun) that an investigation be conducted into the matter.
Ajayi had noted that kerosene, being the only source of energy for millions of Nigerians is scarce and sells at an exorbitant price, wondering if kerosene was subsidised in Nigeria and who authorised it.
He had earlier noted that kerosene, which is supposedly sold to marketers at N40.90, hardly got to the consumers at the regulated price as it was only the NNPC retail outlets that sold the product at N50 per litre, while other major and independent marketers retailed the product at between N130-N135 per litre.
The lawmaker also drew the attention of the House to the N634 billion said to have been spent on kerosene subsidy between 2010 and 2012.
According to Ajayi, the House should be more “concerned about the alleged racketeering going on at NNPC where allegations are rife that kerosene is purchased from the depot by dealers at between N65 to N75 per litre which in turn makes it commercially impossible to resell to Nigerians at the recommended retail price of N50.”
SAINT MUGAGA, ABUJA.