Reps Summon Ministers, NNPC Boss over Illegal Subsidy Payments
The House of Representatives Joint Committee on Finance and Petroleum (Downstream), on Thursday, summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, over funds being paid to subsidise the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) without appropriation.
The committee also summoned the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr Maikanti Baru; heads of the Department of Petroleum Resources, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund.
They are to appear before the panel next Thursday.
The panel resolved to summon the officials over allegedly refusing to answer the earlier invitations to them by the lawmakers.
The House has mandated the joint committee to investigate the allegation that while the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had claimed to have stopped subsidising petrol, billions of naira were still being paid to maintain the current pump price of N145 without an approved budget.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Mr Babangida Ibrahim, said documents before the panel showed that the landing cost of petroleum product was far above the pump price.
Ibrahim said the committee wanted to know who paid for the differential, warning that failure by the officials to appear before the panel would be termed an affront to the legislature.
He said the panel had written letters to make a request for information and only the DPR and PPPRA presented documents, which he said contained contradictory information.
Ibrahim said, “The mandate given to this joint committee on Finance and Petroleum (Downstream) by the House is to invite the Minister of State for Petroleum and Finance Minister, the GMD of the NNPC as well as the ES of PPPRA, and ‘urge the Executive to make provision for subsidy payment in the 2019 budget.’
“Unfortunately, the heads of the relevant MDAs are not here, and they are very central to our mandate. So, what do we do now as a committee for us to carry out our assignment?”
Commenting, Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum, Mr Joseph Akinlaja, decried that since the committee commenced series of hearings on the matter, none of the heads of the affected government agencies had appeared.