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Finally laying to rest the mischief of Lamido Sanusi

Source: pointblanknews.com
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By Sehinde Omoniyi
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At last, the Senator Ahmed Markarfi led-Senate Committee on Public Finance has laid to rest the gruesome attempt by the former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to derail the ongoing reform efforts of the ministry of petroleum resources of the oil and gas sector through its various agencies.

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For most Nigerians, while Mallam Sanusi embarked on his circus show at both the House of Representative and the Senate committees, it was a period of confusion and doubts for those who are saddled with the daunting task of ensuring that petroleum products are made available for both the domestic and foreign markets.

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That the Senate Committee was able to meander through the heap of distorted facts and politically motivated allegations against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiaries and reach its soothing clarifications, is a pointer that in spite of our seeming shortfalls as a people, we are quite capable of getting it right when we have the right people in the right place.

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The Committee's report among other things clearly exonerated the management and officials of the NNPC and its subsidiaries of the gargantuan and grossly unfounded allegations that the former CBN Governor attempted without success to foist on these honourable Nigerians.

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Clearly, where Sanusi unashamedly denied knowledge of any existing subsidy regime since 2011, the Senate Committee admitted that the National Assembly duly appropriated the subsidy of both Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and Kerosene (DPK).

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Contrary to Mallam Sanusi's utter denial of subsidy even though the CBN has been represented on the various revenue reconciliation committees of the government since his tenure as CBN Governor; the Senate Committee recommended among other things that:

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'The Senate to accept the subsidy deducted by the NNPC from January 2012 to July 2013 of US$5.254 billion (N813,803 billion) since it was certified by PPPRA (Pipeline Product Pricing Regulatory Agency) and Appropriated by the National Assembly'.

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This common and infallible truth rang throughout the entire submission of the Senate Committee and it was a clear indication that the Senate of the sixth National Assembly has come of age and therefore has become a veritable tool for the sustenance of democracy in the African continent.

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And where the Senate Committee called for refund either by the NNPC or any other agency involved in the oil and gas chain, it did so with a sense of patriotism knowing that the industry is critical to the economy of the Nigerian nation.

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Perhaps a subject of much commendation in the Senate Public Finance Committee report is where it recognises the need for amendment where there were omissions as it advised that the President, should prepare for presentation to the National Assembly supplementary budget to cover the over expenditure of N90.7 billion (US$585 million) to cover the subsidy for PMS in 2012 and another sum of N685.9 billion (US$4.430 billion) for Kerosene.

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Both figures represent amounts spent without appropriation by the National Assembly for the periods 2012 and 2013.

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In another swipe on the misinformation which Mallam Sanusi tried without success to sell to Nigerians, the Senate Committee advised government to discontinue the subsidy regime insisting that this should be done with the involvement of stakeholders as a way of reducing rancour that may arise from this action.

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This position clearly shows that the former CBN Governor all the while was determined to deceive Nigerians when he went public to declare that subsidy has been abolished by the same government he served in; an obvious attempt to create chaos for reasons best known to himself.

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For a public officer occupying the exalted office of CBN Governor, the former CBN helmsman proved to be an obvious misfit for the position and as this writer and others have pointed out before now, more caution should be taken in appointing people into certain sensitive offices.

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Time and again it has been proven that men and women who are good team players make better leaders even if they are not necessarily the best in terms of intelligent quotient.

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It does not matter how smart a person may be, his ability to lead and work for the common good is critical just as it has been proven that talent without discipline is simply a disaster waiting to happen.

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Over the years, the issue of oil subsidy has proven quite sensitive and no right thinking government will toy with the subject without adequate consultation and making enough provisions to cushion its effect, both in the short and long term.

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It remains therefore a careless and reckless adventure to politicise oil and its prevailing subsidy regime since this obviously is the most common singular national wealth that Nigerians enjoy.

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It is in this that the former CBN Governor failed woefully to realise that he was treading on one of the most sensitive national issues, coming to the public and announcing that oil subsidy has been abrogated by the late President Yar'Adua must be seen as a wicked attempt to pitch the people against the government.

Ordinarily, a CBN Governor ought to use his office to influence monetary and financial policies that would make the naira a strong currency by so doing empowering the people as a result of a strong spending power.

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Appropriate pricing of the products and distribution across the country involves several levels of participation which must be harnessed to make the people feel the impact of the existing subsidy regime.

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By putting the blame of scarcity of kerosene and other petroleum products on the NNPC and the ministry of Petroleum Resources; the ex-CBN boss was deliberately setting up management of these agencies against the wrath of Nigerians.

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Insisting that the NNPC and its subsidiaries should police the distribution and sales of petroleum products across the country, amounts to creating a monopoly out of the corporation which the new business culture across the world abhors.

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The Senate and its various committees must be commended for living up to their calling as stabilising factor in the country's democracy, it is hoped that the House of Representatives and other arms of government would emulate this new spirit in the Senate for a greater Nigeria.

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Sehinde Omoniyi is a Media Practitioner and wrote from Abuja

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