House C'ttee In Rowdy Session Over Alleged Attempt To Shield Petroleum Minister


SAN FRANCISCO, March 11, (THEWILL) - The joint Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Downstream and Gas of the House of Representatives was thrown into a rowdy session Tuesday as members of the committee nearly threw punches at one another over alleged attempts by the chairman of the committee to shield the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs.

Diezani Alison-Madueke, from giving clarifications on the looming fuel scarcity in the country.

This came as the minister disclosed that the scarcity was caused by diversion and hoarding of fuel by some marketers.

The minister who was at the House of Representatives to defend the 2014 budget proposal for her ministry had gone into an executive session with the committee.

But member of the committee, Hon.
Yusuf Bala (PDP-Kaduna) accused the chairman of the joint committee for allegedly shielding the Minister especially in the face of the seemingly unending fuel scarcity that have hit some major cities in the country, including Lagos and Abuja among other allegations.

Bala's allegations did not go down well with other members of the committee, which resulted into a shouting match forcing the lawmaker to storm out of the meeting condemning those opposed to him.

The minister has however attributed the current fuel shortage to activities of some marketers hoarding and diverting fuel, "It was quite obvious that it could be caused by a number of things that we are looking into.

There is some supply hitch which we are looking into, there is also diversion which was quite clear.

There was an element of hoarding as well.
And while we are trying to get to the bottom of who diverted what at the same time in terms of supply, we are trying to ensure that over the next week we flood the country with petroleum products," the minister stated.

She also debunked rumour of a planned increase in the pump price of petrol in the country, saying "There is also some strange rumour that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources is going to announce an increase in the pump price of petrol which also helped to instigate some of the hoarding and some of the diversion.

And I have said categorically over, and get that, we have no plans to increase the pump price of petrol anytime in the near future.

"On the issues of supplies, more and more PMS is being brought in and over the next week or two, we would flood the country with the product.

And in terms of the diversions we would try and ensure that whichever stations we find to have actually diverted or hoarded the produce, we will take them up and implement punitive measures no matter which stations they are, whether they are NNPC stations or any other stations, independent or otherwise we will take them up to face the full extent of the law.

" On the budget, the minister said the total budget allocation for the ministry was N60.

911 billion in 2013.
Of this amount, N50.
483 billion went to personnel cost while N1.
85 billion and N8.
5 billion went to overhead cost and capital expenditure respectively representing 50.

2 percent.
She disclosed that the total budget proposal for the ministry is N61.

9 billion with N53.
8 billion allocated for personnel cost while N1.
85 billion is for overhead and N6.
221 billion for capital respectively.