The Senate on Tuesday constituted an ad hoc committee to investigate the fuel subsidy regime of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
This followed the adoption of a motion by Patrick Chinwuba (APC-Imo) during plenary on Tuesday.
The motion was tagged “Need to Investigate the Controversial Huge Expenditure on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) under the Subsidy/Under Recovery Regime by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).”
Moving the motion, Mr Chinwuba said the federal government, on 11 May 2016, announced an increase in fuel pump price from N87 to between N135 and N145 per litre.
“This was in its fight against corruption and in order to plug the presumed highly proliferated leakages, wastages and slippages surrounding the fuel subsidy as well as in an attempt to end the controversial subsidy regime.
“At the inauguration of the present government on May 29, the president took a bold step to announce the total removal of fuel subsidy, noting that the scheme has increasingly favoured the rich more than the poor,” he said.
He said the government’s interest in exiting the subsidy regime was in line with the policy of reducing the cost of governance and the desire to eliminate corrupt practices surrounding the scheme.
“The NNPCL, within the period of subsidy exit attempt, substituted the term subsidy with under recovery without any recourse to the National Assembly or supervision by any other arm of the government.
“While NNPCL within ten years, 2006 and 2015, claimed about N170 billion as under-recovery, the same NNPCL within 13 months, January 2018 to January 2019 claimed a whopping sum of N843.121 billion as under-recovery,” he said.
The lawmaker expressed worry that the uninvestigated and alarming cost of under-recovery/direct deductions by NNPCL without necessary checks had led to a great misunderstanding of the government’s good intention on subsidy removal.
Supporting the motion, Jibrin Isa (APC-Kogi) said that utilising the savings arising from removing the subsidy was very important.
“This is where our oversight function comes to play.
“These monies that are going to be recovered from the discontinuance of fuel subsidy should be used to revive some of the ailing companies in particular; the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, Itakpe Iron Ore Mining Company in Kogi and Oshogbo Iron and Steel Rolling Mills in Osun.
“Those projects can create a lot of employment opportunities, create a lot of revenue for the government,” he said.
Also, Osita Izunaso (APC-Imo) said, “We need to look at the palliatives to cushion the effects of subsidy removal.
“Much as we are going to make a lot of gains from subsidy removal, we have to look at the suffering of our people.”
Mohammed Monguno (APC-Borno) said the previous government never had the political will to withdraw the subsidy.
“We thank this government for taking the bull by the horn and gathering all the political will to withdraw the subsidy in the interest of Nigerians.
“We are now saving a lot of money, which we can use to deploy for revamping our infrastructure.
“In view of the hardship unleashed on Nigerians as a result of the subsidy, there is the need for government to take responsibility in cushioning the effect of the removal,” he said.
All senators unanimously adopted the prayers after a voice vote by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.
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