Senate Lament: How FG Spent N11tn On Fuel Subsidy In Six Years
- Approves N129.048bn for payment of 67 oil marketers.
- Leader accuses wealthy Nigerians of buying court judgments.
The Senate Thursday disclosed that the federal government spent not less than N11 trillion on fuel subsidy in the last six years.
The Senate’s approval of oil subsidy claims was sequel to the presentation of the report of the Senator Kabir Marafa-led 20-man Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector on Promissory Note Programme and Bond Issuance to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations to petroleum marketers by the chairman.
Marafa, in his 11-page presentation, said Nigeria had since 2013 spent over N11 trillion to settle outstanding fuel subsidy claims. However, he said the approval of the latest payment to 67 oil marketers ended the issue of subsidy arrears claims by oil marketing companies.
He said all the subsidy arrears claims were based on three inter-related elements: subsidy, forex differentials and bank interests on unpaid claims. According to him, “That the recent request computation is based on one of the already identified elements (forex differential).
“That due to scarcity of forex within the period, oil marketing companies were allowed to source forex outside CBN rate to enable them to meet the country’s petroleum products demand.
“That NNPC Retail get their petroleum product allocation directly from PPPMC at already subsidised rate and so does not require forex to transact its business.”
Some of the benefitting oil marketers and the amount approved for them include: Total Nigeria PLC N13.7 billion, Northwest Petroleum N11.4 billion, Masters Energy N10 billion, MRS Oil PLC N8.8 billion and Sahara Energy N8.4 billion.
Others are: MRS Oil & Gas Limited; N6.3 billion, NIPCo Plc, N4.2 billion; Forte Oil N3.9 billion, DEEJONES Petroleum & Gas, N4.1 billion; Emadeb, N4 billion; Sulphur Streams Ltd N147.52 million; Eterna Plc, N704,89 million; Ceoti Limited, N88.20 million; and ASB Investment Company, N38.85 million; among others.
Contributing, some senators said Nigeria was bleeding paying outstanding subsidy claims and that this would hurt the nation’s economy. They, therefore, called for the building of new refineries to end fuel subsidy payment.
On his part, Chairman of Senate, Public Accounts Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, expressed concern that more subsidy requests would come in the incoming ninth Assembly because “the computations were not properly done.”
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, lamented that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) now charge subsidy claims on the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, a development he described as unconstitutional.
“But the implication, therefore, is that those expenditures are never appropriated. So, it is a possible area of conflict between the executive and the parliament.
“I do hope that the next assembly will be able to sit down with the executive in order to address this issue without creating unnecessary tension. And NNPC needs to also caution themselves in that respect so that they don’t encroach on the appropriation responsibilities of the National Assembly.”
Senate Leader Accuses Wealthy Nigerians of Buying Court Judgments
Meanwhile, Senate Leader, Lawan, Thursday accused wealthy Nigerians of influencing court judgments in their favour. He spoke even as the Senate asked the federal government not to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
Lawan, who made the allegation during plenary at the screening of Justice Abubakar Musa Sadiq as President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), accused the wealthy of using their resources to procure favourable judgments.
He said: “Ours is a society where people who have so much money buy judgments. I think that is not the type of society that we want. We want a society where those at the lowest line; the vulnerable and the disadvantaged can go to courts and get judgments because they deserve to get those judgments regardless of their socio-economic status.
“So I want to pray for you and for all of us that this nomination that we are going to confirm by the grace of God will be a blessing and an additional advantage to the judiciary and the people of this great country.”
Lawan, who is the ninth Senate presidency added that the judicial arm of government is expected by Nigerians “to be firm, fair, committed to those ideals that the founding fathers of this country worked and died for; that is to make life better for every Nigerian.”
The Senate thereafter suspended its rules and confirmed the appointment of Sadiq as President of the Customary Court of Appeal within 12 minutes of reading President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter to the lawmakers.
The Senate approved the nomination after it dissolved into Committee of the Whole to screen the nominee.Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, had read a letter from Buhari requesting for the confirmation of Sadiq.
Lawan moved the motion for the accelerated screening of the nominee and was seconded by Senator Chukwuka Utazi. According to Lawan, the motion became necessary since the eighth Senate would soon wind down.