Cabal Moves Against Fuel Subsidy ReportLatest Politics, Oil Politics Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
There are heightened fears that a cabal was determined to ensure that the Hon. Farouk Lawan-led committee panel report does not see the light of day or at worst, get the contents heavily doctored.
As a result, controversy has continued to trail the report on fuel subsidy with a group describing it as being suspicious, one-sided and with a pre-determined agenda.
The report which was scheduled for presentation to the House of Representatives plenary yesterday had to be shelved, as the issue was conspicuously missing on the Order paper.
However, the House spokesman, Hon. Zakari Mohammed explained that the House was not under any pressure to present the report, and further noted that there was no political undertone that warranted the development.
The chairman of the probe committee, Hon. Farouk Lawan was however, conspicuously absent at yesterday’s plenary.
Group faults report
However, the president of the Petroleum Stakeholders Movement, Mr. Frank Diobi said yesterday that from the extracts published by some newspapers on the report of the committee, its silence on some salient issues concerning the industry had raised suspicion.
The group said it strongly suspected that the report was tainted to favour some key players in the oil industry, and queried why the probe period was limited to only two years, from 2009 -2011.
The statement from the stakeholders reads in part: “From the publications, we have every reason to suspect the report because it is silent on many issues. One, many oil firms appeared before the committee, what informed the conclusion that led to the singling out of 69 oil firms out of over 100 involved in fuel importation?
“The committee should release the details of how it arrived at its conclusion. It should also come up with a position on the status of other oil firms and clarify whether they have been given a clean bill of health or not. This will clear public odium which some of these firms were subjected to by the conduct of the public hearing of the ad hoc committee.
“Two, why did the committee ignore official fact-sheets from the NNPC and PPPRA on payment of 2010 subsidy arrears on HHK which shot up the 2011 fuel subsidy to about N1.6trillion.
“Instead of acknowledging the sound technical explanation from the NNPC and the PPPRA, the Lawan Farouk Committee went off the track by dismissing the computed arrears for HHK (Kerosene) as illegal having been prescribed by a presidential directive in 2009. Could the NNPC and the PPPRA be watching while the nation was almost brought to a standstill because of scarcity of kerosene?
“The panel decided to trade on sentiments. There seems to be a hidden agenda to the rejection of the computed subsidy arrears on HHK by the panel. We need to emphasise that the House cannot consider Farouk Lawan committee without a comprehensive review of fuel subsidy regime from 1999 to date.
“We want the committee to emulate the Senate on how it conducted hearing into the BPE activities. The inquiry was broad-based and broad-minded.
“We appeal to the Senate to go ahead with its own probe of the fuel subsidy scam to give Nigerians the other side of the subsidy regime.
“As it is now, it is obvious that the House Ad Hoc Committee has a pre-determined agenda and we advise Nigerians to be careful in accepting its report,” the statement noted.
Meanwhile, Acorn Petroleum Plc. has denied benefiting along side with other oil marketers from unmerited fuel subsidy payments to the tune of N229.7 billion to defraud the country.
The Head, Brand and Corporate Communication Acorn Petroleum Plc, Austine Fischer who disclosed this to journalists yesterday said the allegation hinged on the report of the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Management of Fuel Subsidy (“the House Committee”) was far from the truth.
He said it was alleged that Acorn was to refund a subsidy claim of N8, 514,900,513.00 for 140,894,149 litres of premium motor spirit (PMS) imported in 2010 – 2011.
According to him, “Acorn was never invited to appear before the House Committee during the probe which gave rise to the purported report, to defend its position or provide information to support its subsidy claims.
“It is an established principle and common knowledge that Importation of Petroleum products into the country cannot be undertaken without an import permit from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and a quarterly allocation from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA),” Fischer stated.
Firms indicted must be punished — Aliyu
Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State has however insisted that all those indicted by the committee’s report would be made to account for their actions.
Aliyu, who declared open a seminar on ‘Good Governance and Post Fuel Subsidy Appraisal’ organised by the National Orientation Agency, NOA, in Minna, Niger State yesterday, specifically said that those who were found to have collected money without providing subsidy must pay back the money and be prosecuted.
Aliyu posited that the fuel subsidy diversion was “wastage, it is corruption. It is stealing which should not be allowed to go unpunished.”
He said the Nigeria Governors Forum agreed that fuel subsidy should be removed because on a monthly basis, deductions were made from the federation account in the name of fuel subsidy, whereas, fuel was not getting to the ordinary Nigerians at the official pump price.”
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