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OIL SUBSIDY: NIGERIANS SHOULDN'T PAY FOR GOVT'S INEFFICIENCY -SENATORS

By NBF News
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Senate Minority Whip, Ganiyu Solomon and Chairman of the Senate Services, Senator Suleiman Adokwe said yesterday that Nigerians must not be made to pay for government's inefficiency in managing subsidy on petroleum products.

Speaking against the backdrop of the Presidency's proposal to remove oil subsidy in 2012, the senators said the Presidency should tender a breakdown of the oil subsidy to Nigerians. The duo faulted the secrecy attached to the annual budget of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as well as how it managed the oil subsidy.

Speaking in separate interviews, the lawmakers faulted the NNPC Act, which made the nation's indigenous oil agency accountable only to the President and demanded that its accounts be made public through the National Assembly. Senator Adokwe noted that the Senate Petroleum Resources Committee was deliberately frustrated when it asked questions on NNPC and its accounts. 'In the sixth Senate, I served on the Downstream Petroleum Committee and I had a position, which was that the major issues were how to manage the subsidy.

'There were speculations here and there that the subsidy was getting into the wrong hands that it wasn't getting to the real people, who actually needed the subsidy. 'We tried to ask so many questions, to find out why and what was happening. My biggest grouse then was that NNPC account was shrouded in so much secrecy and nobody knew what was going on there. It's a fundamental error that a major organization like that, which is responsible for our wealth, its activities are shrouded in secrecy, its budget is not subjected to scrutiny by the National Assembly.

'The military made the NNPC Act in such a way that they are answerable only to Mr President. Its budget needs to be properly scrutinized so that we would know how they are managing the subsidy.'In spite of the fact that we are paying trillions of naira for oil subsidy, the pump price is still very high in the North; particularly in the North-east and the North- west. There's still continued shortage of petroleum products in that part of the country and we wonder really who is being subsidized.'We really need to know how the subsidy is being managed. If we know how it's being managed, probably there may be no need to take it off.

'So, it's not a straightforward answer I can give. I cannot give a straightforward answer until I get the facts concerning the subsidy.'

On his part, Senator Solomon urged government to have a re-think on removal of the subsidy, as doing so would simply be punishing Nigerians.'Government should seriously have a rethink on this matter. That we are where we are now is quite sad.