Senate president vows to expose culprits in high places
Corporation insists govt owing N170.6 billion subsidy
Deep-Seated illegality and abuse of financial procedures still bedevil the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) two years after a regime change, Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki declared yesterday in Abuja. Saraki said the problem had continued in spite of efforts to sanitise the oil industry.
Saraki, who was represented by the Senate leader, Ahmed Lawal, at a public hearing on the re-introduction of subsidy being conducted by the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), expressed displeasure at what he described as secret and opaque re-introduction of subsidy in the prices of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) without any budget approval by the National Assembly.
The Senate President regretted that “government has not done what we need to do to nip this problem in the bud.”He said payments amounting to some N10 trillion were hijacked to favour few individuals. “Findings have brought to light the fact that our downstream oil and gas industry needs critical reforms”, he said.
Saraki further stated that it had been exposed that “in spite of the stoppage of the fuel subsidy regime, and non-appropriation of funds for the scheme due to the fraud and maladministration going on in the scheme, fuel subsidy payments continue to be maid illegally from our commonwealth to a few quietly in order to dodge scrutiny and avoid exposure.”
Insisting that the Senate would not rest until all perpetrators of the fraud particularly those in high public offices were exposed, the Senate president stated: “But this 8th Senate is here to expose all corruption in the system irrespective of how highly placed those involved are. This unconstitutional and illegal practice must be addressed and we are not going to rest until it is fully addressed.”
Saraki charged the committee to “get to the bottom of this issue and proffer long-lasting solutions to this racketeering in the fuel market that leaves the Nigerian people poorer every year.” Other questions the committee must seek answers to, according to the Senate president, are “the actual quantity of fuel the Nigerian market consumes; the underlining reasons why the market is struggling to operate without government intervention; and the process and all those involved in signing out unbudgeted funds outside the budget passed by the National Assembly.”
Meanwhile, the NNPC has claimed that the Nigerian Federation was indebted to the corporation to the tune of N170.6 billion outstanding subsidy payments due from January 2006 to December, 2015.
Leading a team of top management of the NNPC to the ongoing investigative hearing on N5 trillion subsidy payments from 2006 to 2016, the Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said the figure was arrived at after the deduction of N4.950.80 trillion received as payments from theN5.121.40 trillion approved subsidy claims of the corporation from January 2006 to December 2015.
Providing details of the accruals, the Chief Financial Officer of the corporation, Mr. Isiaka AbdulRazaq, traced the advent of the subsidy regime to October, 2003 when NNPC was directed by government to commence the purchase of domestic crude oil at international market price without a corresponding liberalisation of the regulated price of petroleum products.
He explained that under the subsidy regime, NNPC and other suppliers of refined petroleum products were entitled to file subsidy claims to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).AbdulRazaq, however, noted that unlike other oil marketers, NNPC did not receive cash payment for subsidy claims as its subsidy claims were deducted out of cost payment to the federation account after due certification by PPPRA.
‘’In summary, NNPC submits that the amount of over N5.1 Trillion was duly approved by PPPRA as subsidy claims for NNPC. Out of this sum NNPC is still being owed N170.6 billion,’’ the NNPC CFO said.
The corporation called on the Senate Downstream Committee to assist in ensuring that the outstanding debt was settled to enable the NNPC to effectively achieve its obligation as the supplier of last resort to the downstream sector.