Politics

Fuel subsidy probe: We won’t allow interference from highly placed people ― Reps

Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating the implementation of petroleum products subsidy regime between 2017 and 2021, Hon. Ibrahim Aliyu has assured Nigerians of its resolve to put the national interest first while carrying out the assignment.

Hon. Aliyu who gave the assurance during a media chat in Abuja assured Nigerians that the national assignment will be carried out without recourse to any interference from highly placed people in the country.

“We are here to serve our dear nation. We are for Nigeria first. We are concerned about the plight of over 200 million Nigerians. And I believe the traditional leaders, our fathers are also seriously concerned. Eminent personalities in the country are also disturbed about what is happening in the country.

“So, seeing that we are out to change the status quo, I believe instead of what you are thinking about, the calls we would receive from them would be a positive call to do the right thing and we are going to do the right thing,” Aliyu opined.

He explained that the Ad-hoc Committee was mandated to determine the total and actual consumption of the products as reflected in the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited’s report for fuel subsidy.

He added that the Committee will also beam its searchlight into the direct sales and direct purchase (DSDP) arrangement for petroleum products which has affected the growth of the oil industry for many years.

He added that his team will also determine the impact of subsidy on the Nigerian economy and examine the state of Nigerian refineries which have become comatose and are currently undergoing rehabilitation.

He averred that “subsidy is an issue that concerns all of us. It concerns the economy of our beloved country Nigeria and I don’t want to pre-empt the findings of the Committee but actually, there are issues that we are concerned about. Specifically, this Committee is going to work on the subsidy regime.

“We need to understand what subsidy is all about. In the market today those of us that use diesel, know that because there is no subsidy on diesel if you go to buy, it is as high as N800 per litre.

“The PMS you buy at N165 but try and check the global market, even the neighbouring countries, how much are they selling a litre of PMS then you will understand the country subsidises, that price for you to be able to afford to buy and make life easier. So within this, a lot now comes in.

“The direct sale direct purchase -you give the crude oil in exchange for the refined products. What litres of crude oil do we give in exchange for what litres of refined products? How many litres of refined petroleum products are imported daily and how many are utilised?

“Now we have a Committee that is trying to check the actual rate of consumption. So we will do the maths and inter-relate. There would actually be synergy between this Committee and the actual amount of fuel consumed daily and to know how much Nigerian government is paying or sacrificing for the convenience of the fellow citizens.”

In his remarks, Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu affirmed that the resolution which led to the inauguration of the Ad-hoc committee to investigate the subsidy regime should not be seen as a jamboree as insinuated but as the urgent need to address the recurring issue in the oil industry which hampers the nation’s development.

He said: “The House is not here for jamboree and none of Committee s’ chairmen is engaged in jamborees, whether it is substantive Committees or Ad-hoc Committees.

“You should know that the work is not as easy as a one-week or two weeks job. It takes a lot of analysis, a lot of consulting, and analysis of data for you to get a report that would help the government formulate better policies.

“This is an all-important committee that Nigerians have been waiting for in the sense that there have been a lot of questions as to what is our consumption rates, how much have we spent on subsidy, is subsidy coming back, will it help us to augment the gap created in the supply sector of gas and oil?

“So those questions would be addressed by this committee. The membership of the committee was selected from across the board; different committees of the House that has to do with oil and gas and also the leadership of the House,” the House Spokesman said.

Recall that the sponsor of the motion, Hon. Sergius Ogun had expressed worry that the consumption rate of Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) is 40 million to 45 million litres per day but NNPC uses 65 million to 100 million litres per day to determine subsidy as discoverable from its monthly reports to the Federal Allocation Committee.

According to him, “the subsidy regime has been unscrupulously used by the NNPC and other critical stakeholders to subvert the nation’s crude oil revenue to the tune of over $10 billion, with records showing that as of 2021, over $7 billion in over 120 million barrels have been so diverted.”

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