BY LAWRENCE ETIM
The Senate of Nigeria on Thursday alleged that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, illegally spends N700m on kerosene subsidy daily. This allegation was contained in the motion sponsored by Senator Babajide Omoworare (Osun East) and debated in the senate.
At the end of the debate, the senate adopted the resolution asking its committee on finance, which is already investigating the alleged missing crude oil sales to incorporate the verification of the allegation to its work. The said amount which was not appropriated by the National Assembly amounts to N4.2bn in every six days.
Omowurare explained the unappropriated amount, which he noted, has also been confirmed by the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, and ministries of finance and petroleum, as illegal, unconstitutional and a breach of the appropriation acts by the National Assembly. The action contravened Section 80 and 162 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
It is further observed that less than 10 per cent of petroleum products’ outlets in the country sell Kerosene at the N50 subsidised rate and argued that the general rate at which the product is sold is N150 per litre. Therefore the so-called subsidy scheme has totally failed to ameliorate the living conditions of the masses, who should ordinarily be the beneficiaries of the scheme.
The Senate noted with sadness that only “less than 10 per cent of Nigerians benefit from this heartless massive scheme that drains the nation’s treasury.” “The amount is more than double of the aggregate annual budget for education, health, roads, security and agricultural sectors, while majority of our populace wallow in abject poverty at the expense of these few mindless rich cabal network.”
Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi (Ekiti North), also contributing said contrary to the claim of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, that kerosene is subsidised in the interest of the masses, Nigerians pay exorbitant rates to obtain the product as he proceeded to enumerate varying rates at which the product is sold in different locations. A nationwide comparisons to prove the point that Nigerians are losing the value of the so called subsidy on the product.
Accordingly, while the product was sold at N65.00 at an NNPC mega station in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State, where Allison-Madueke comes from at 7pm on Wednesday, kerosene was sold in Odi, another community in Bayelsa State between N170.00 and N180.00 as well as in some petrol stations on East -West Road same time. Kerosene was sold at New Nyanya, Abuja at the rate of N105.00 at 6.44 am, it was sold at N155.00 at Depot in Makurdi, Benue State same time.
The breakdown of varying sales was given to debunk the Alison- Madueke’s claim that the product is subsidised for the masses, saying what the minister has done by this kerosene subsidy is to suspend the constitution by spending unauthorized funds from the federation account.
Adetumbi challenged the Senate to live up to its responsibility by defending its power of appropriation which is being violated. Senators Abdul Ningi, George Akume, Bukola Saraki and Ayogu Eze insisted that henceforth kerosene subsidy must stop until investigations into the scam are concluded.