Subsidy Claims Gulp N11trn In Six Years -Senate …Approves N129bn Payment To Oil Marketers Holds Valedictory Session, June 6
As Nigeria’s expenditure on fuel subsidy hits N11 trillion over the past 6years, the Senate yesterday expressed worry over the increasingly huge financial burden just as it cautioned that the huge subsidy payment if left unchecked, could kill the economy.
The senators, also berated the Federal Government for paying subsidy to oil marketers over the years without approval from the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly .
The caution came up a matter of urgent importance even at the as the National Assembly adjourned plenary till June 6 for its valedictory session, when it will officially end the four year life of the 8th session of the National Assembly.
This issue on the subsidy regime came up while the senate was considering the reports of its Committee on Petroleum Downstream during which the lawmakers took turn to lament the excessive subsidy payments which they questioned the validity.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC Zamfara Central), who presented the report to his colleagues reported that the nation over the last six years has spent over N11 trn to pay outstanding subsidy claims .
In another development, the red chamber also approved the payment of additional N129 billion subsidy claims to 67 petroleum marketers.
The Senate had earlier on Tuesday approved the payment of N68.9bn as subsidy claims to 20 petroleum marketers.
Marafa’s report reads, “That due to scarcity of Forex within the period, Oil Marketing Companies were allowed to source Forex outside CBN rate to enable them meet the country’s petroleum products demand.
“That NNPC Retail get their petroleum product allocation directly from PPPMC at already subsidized rate and so does not require forex to transact its business.”
Some of the oil marketers and the amount approved for them include: Total Nigeria PLC N13.7 billion, Northwest Petroleum N11.4 billion, Masters Energy N10 billion, MRS Oil PLC N8.8 billion and Sahara Energy N8.4 billion.
Others are: MRS Oil & Gas Limited N6.3 billion, Nipco PLC N4.2 billion, Forte Oil N3.9 billion, DEEJONES Petroleum & Gas N4.1 billion, Emadeb N4 billion among others.
Senator Barnabas Gemade in his contribution, asked why the Federal Government and the anti graft agencies had failed to convict any of the oil marketers who were indicted in the illegal subsidy claims.
He regretted that the government had not done enough in bringing the owners of the affected 50 oil firms to justice many years after their prosecution.
His words “What has happened to those who defrauded the nation? I believe that the 9th Senate will do justice to know what has happened to this money.”
Gemade also reminded the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government of its pledge subsidy payment when it came into in 2015.
“The government should stand by its words. If the government fails to end the subsidy regime, it will kill the Nigerian economy and all of will be accused to it.”He said
Senator Victor Umeh (APGA, Anambra) said, “If we continue to hope that one day this subsidy will end, we are deceiving ourselves. What would Nigerians face after this payment of arrears?”
“People in government have refused to face the problem. Everyone is depending on oil revenue and yet no functional refineries have been set in place
“The government should be able to plan to build five refineries, why can’t we use the money we get from sale of our crude to build refineries?
“The government should give us a programme to enable us have four functional refineries in five years.
“Exchange rates are not the problem, but our inability to do what others are doing is the main issue”.
In his ruling after the debate, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said “I hope that the next Assembly will be able to sit with the Executive to address this issue and resolve it without creating unnecessary tension.
“The NNPC needs to also caution itself so that they do not encroach on the appropriation responsibility of the National Assembly.
“We need to do something about provisions of refineries in our country – it is not rocket science. Even if it does not resolve the issue of subsidy, we would have gone a long way in addressing it”.
Meanwhile, the 8th Senate yesterday concluded its business session and adjourned till June 6 for valedictory, to mark the end of the session.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, made the announcement at the end of the day’s session.
In his remarks, Ekweremadu thanked the lawmakers for contributing immensely to the success of the 8th Senate.
He urged them to turn out massively on June 6 to officially bring the session to a close.
“I want to thank all of us who are here present for today’s plenary. Today marks the end of our business session.
“We will be meeting on June 6 for our valedictory session. I want to appeal to all our colleagues to be present,” he said.
The 8th senate, which was inaugurated on June 9, 2015 would be coming to an end after its valedictory session, to pave way for inauguration of the 9th National Assembly.
Nigeria operates a bicameral government, with the senate as the upper chamber.
It is made up 109 lawmakers, with equal representation of three lawmakers from each of the 36 states.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, each session of the national assembly, which the senate is part of, has a tenure of four years, after which elections are conducted and a new session commences.
Meanwhile, the President of the Senate is the Presiding Officer of the Senate, the Chairman of the National Assembly and third in the Nigerian presidential line of succession.
His key mandate is to guide and regulate proceedings in the senate.
He is assisted by the Deputy President of the Senate in collaboration with principal officers, which include the Majority Leader.
Wike Mocks Amaechi, Abe, Debunks Allegations Of INEC Chairman Working Under Him …Urges Security Agencies To Invite Amaechi For Questioning
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has refuted allegation by former Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, once worked under him as a minister.
The governor noted that Amaechi’s spurious claim that Yakubu was nominated by someone in the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s camp of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was tantamount to public incitement and a threat to national security.
Wike, in a state broadcast on the outcome of the March 18th, 2023, governorship/National Assembly elections in the State, yesterday, said Amaechi’s outburst that the just conducted general elections by INEC was the worst in Nigeria’s history, is ludicrous.
He said, “The truth was that Mahmood Yakubu never worked under me. Both of us worked in the Federal Ministry of Education. He was the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, supervised by the Minister of Education, while I was the Minister of State for Education.
“At any rate, was Mahmood Yakubu INEC’s chairman in the 2015 general elections in Rivers State when we defeated him and his political party as a sitting Governor and Director-General of Muhammadu Buhari’s Presidential Campaign?
“Was it not the same Mahmood Yakubu that conducted the 2019 general election, which the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari won? Was he working for Atiku Abubakar of the PDP when, as a sitting super Minister of Transportation, he could not win 25% for President Buhari in Rivers State in the 2019 general election?”
Wike wondered why it took this long for Amaechi , who served as a minister for over seven years under President Buhari to speak out about his opposition to Mahmood Yakubu’s reappointment.
He observed that in his frustration, Amaechi had publicly denounced and claimed to know so much bad things about the Federal Government that he served for seven year, but, regrettably, lacked the courage to tell Nigerians what he claimed to know about Buhari’s government, which he alleged had totally failed.
“In saner climes, law enforcement agencies should have invited such a devious and malignant character for hate speech, public incitement and threat to national security, public safety and order. By his mischievous statements, Rotimi Amaechi attempted to attribute, locate and blame his infamous political failures and frustrations in Rivers State on the INEC’s chairman.
“In the 2015 general elections, we defeated him as a sitting Governor and Director-General of the Buhari campaign in Rivers State. In the 2019 general elections, we beat him as President Buhari’s super Minister and Director-General of the APC Presidential Campaign.
“He could not even influence 25% of the votes for his party, even after using the Army to cause mayhem and attempt to rig the election. In 2023, we defeated him as an ordinary person. This shows that Rotimi Amaechi cannot win any electoral contest with us in Rivers State”, the governor said.
Wike stressed that the outcome of the 2023 general elections in Rivers State has again exposed Amaechi, the APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole and his Social Democratic Party counterpart, Senator Magnus Abe, as political paperweights and rejects.
“The APC gubernatorial candidate, Tonye Cole, lost in his Ward and Local Government Area. He lost in almost all electoral units, wards and Local Government Areas of the State. Tonye Cole never ran any effective political campaigns. His party was fractured beyond redemption. He was literarily waiting for his godfather and business partner, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi to magically make him governor.
“Rotimi Amaechi also lost to the PDP in his community, Ubima, his Ward and the Local Government Area. Both forgot that Rivers people knew them as an evil partnership that diverted the State’s $50,000,000.00 and declined overwhelmingly to vote for them”, Wike alleged.
The governor further said that the electoral fate of the SDP candidate, Senator Abe, who lost woefully in 15 out of 17 wards in his native Gokana Local Government Area, was also not better.
“Magnus’s vaunting ambition was to have a chance to be named on the ballot as a gubernatorial candidate of any party, having twice been denied the APC by his former friend, political leader and associate, Rotimi Amaechi. He achieved this limited and useless ambition when he hurriedly decamped from the APC to the SDP.”
Wike challenged Abe to explain to the world his relationship with the INEC Director of Security, Lebara Nduh, who allegedly availed him and his supporters with fake INEC security tags.
The governor thanked Rivers people for voting Fubara as the next governor, adding that the results already announced by the INEC show that the PDP won 31 of the 32 State House of Assembly constituencies.
He, however, extended olive branch to the opposition to join in moving the State forward.
According to him, he has received assurance from the governor-elect of his willingness to work with the opposition to advance the interests of the State.
The governor also appreciated the security agencies’ professionalism throughout the elections and promised that the State Government would defray the medical expenses of any security personnel injured during the elections.
Wike congratulated all PDP governors-elects nationwide for their electoral victories.
He said now that the elections are over, PDP members desperately need to close ranks and work together to reclaim, rebuild, and reposition the party based on equity, fairness and justice to serve and advance the country’s unity, security and progress.
Petrol Price Increased By 54.76% Per Litre, NBS Confirms
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), has said that the average retail price of a litre of Petrol increased from N170.42 in February 2022 to N263.76 in February 2023.
It made the declaration in its Petrol Price Watch for February 2023 released in Abuja, yesterday.
It stated that the February 2023 price of N263.76 represented a 54.76 per cent increase over the price of N170.42 recorded in February 2022.
“Comparing the average price value with the previous month of January 2023, the average retail price increased by 24.58 per cent from N257.12.
“On states profiles analysis, Jigawa paid the highest average retail price of N329.17 per litre, followed by Rivers and Ebonyi at N323.33 and N317.14, respectively.
“Conversely, Niger paid the lowest average retail prices of N198.50 per litre, followed by Plateau at N198.71 and Abuja at N200,’’ it stated.
Analysis by zone showed that the South-East recorded the highest average retail price in February 2023 at N306.86 per litre, while the North Central recorded the lowest at N215.01 per litre.
The NBS also stated in its Diesel Price Watch Report for February 2023 that the average retail price was N836.91 per litre.
It explained that the February 2023 price of N836.91 per litre amounted to a 168.26 per cent increase over the N311.98 per litre paid in February 2022.
“On a month-on-month basis, the price increased by 0.98 per cent from the N828.82 per litre recorded in January 2023,’’ it added.
On states profiles analysis, the report said the highest average price of diesel in February 2023 was recorded in Bauchi at N904.33 per litre, followed by Abuja at N885 per litre and Adamawa at N873.33 per litre.
On the other hand, the lowest price was recorded in Bayelsa at N767.14 per litre, followed by Katsina State at N778.75 per litre and Edo at N789.43 per litre.
In addition, the analysis by zone showed that the North Central had the highest price at N850.65 per litre, while the South-South recorded the lowest price at N814.63 per litre.
Buhari Rejects NASS Bill On Power To Summon President, Govs
President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to assent to the Constitution Amendment Bill on power to summon the President and state governors.
The Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, who dropped the hint during yesterday’s plenary, lamented the refusal of the President to assent to the constitution alteration bill and 18 others.
Buhari had, last Friday, assented to 16 out of the 35 constitution alteration bills transmitted to him for assent by the National Assembly.
Informing the Senate in plenary on the presidential action, Lawan said out of the 35 constitution alteration bills forwarded to the President in January, only 16 were assented to.
According to the Senate President, the most striking of the assented 16 bills was the Fifth Alteration Bill Number 6 which makes provisions for financial independence of State Houses of Assembly and Judiciary.
Lawan listed others to include those that dwell on power devolutions in the areas of moving railway services, correctional centres and power generation and distribution, from the exclusive list to concurrent list.
He, however, vowed that the 19 bills that were not assented to by the President would still be pursued vigorously by both chambers of the National Assembly for that purpose.
The first of such 19 bills not assented to by the President was the Fifth Alteration Bill Number 24 , which sought for an Act to Alter the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Empower the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly to Summon the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Governors of States to Answer Questions on issues on which the National and State Houses of Assembly have the Powers to make.
Also. Fifth Alteration Bill Number 7 which sought for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to compel persons to obey or comply with Legislative Summons, was refused assent by the President.
Others important ones are: Fifth Alteration Bill Number 29 which sought for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for a State of the Nation and State of the State Address by the President and Governor.
Fifth Alteration Bill Number 22 which sought for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Specify the period within which the President or the Governor of State shall present the Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly or House of Assembly.
Fifth Alteration Bill Number 30 which sought for “an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Include Former Heads of the National Assembly in the Council of State.
Fifth Alteration Bill Number 14 which sought for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to move Fingerprints, Identification and Criminal Records from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List.
Fifth Alteration Bill Number 18 which sought for “an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Empower the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission to Enforce Compliance with Remittance of Accruals into and Disbursement of Revenue from the Federation Account and Streamline the Procedure for Reviewing the Revenue Allocation Formula.
Fifth Alteration Bill Number 66 which sought for an Act to Alter the Provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Reflect the Establishment and Core Functions of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps etc.
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