Reps list terms for debating fuel subsidy removal

“Aminu, Sule differ on planned action” 

Amid the controversy trailing the planned removal of fuel subsidy, the House of Representatives has given conditions for the consideration of President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for the decision.

Again, relevant Committees of the House have been instructed to commence full investigations into the matter to enable the House reach a decision on whether to approve the President’s request to remove the subsidy.

Meanwhile, former Minister of Petroleum Resources,  Prof. Jibril Aminu, in an interview, has supported the proposed removal of fuel subsidy.

He said only Nigeria’s neighbours enjoyed the more than N1 trillion being spent annually by the government in executing the policy.

But Nigeria’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) and the country’s first oil Minister Amb Yusuf Maitama Sule has described as inappropriate government’s plan to remove oil subsidy and called on the Federal Government to reconsider its decision in the best interest of the country.

He observed that as an oil-producing nation, it would be a wrong step for the government to remove the subsidy considering the adverse effect it would have on the people.

Answering questions from journalists at the public presentation of  “Lifting the Peril: A Root-Cause Resolution of the Niger Delta Crisis”, by former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Patrick Ekpotu yesterday in Abuja, Sule noted that instead of importing oil, the Federal Government should repair the existing refineries in the country and make the products affordable for Nigerians.

In an interview yesterday, House of Representatives’ spokesman, Zakari Mohammed, disclosed that the House was very suspicious about the claim that the sum of N1.2 trillion had been spent on fuel subsidy in 2011 even when it had not ended.

According to him, if at the end of the investigations by the committees, it was discovered that Nigeria does not need more than N500 billion for the fuel subsidy, the House may give it a consideration.

Mohammed stated: “What we are interested in knowing at the moment is the reasons for the wide gap between the N500 billion and the N1.2 trillion that was said to have been spent for the same purpose this year. Last year, we spent half a trillion, that is N500 billion on subsidy. But this year has not even ended, they are saying that we have already spent N1.2 trillion. Why the difference?

This question is what the House is seeking answers to before the request for the removal of fuel subsidy can be considered at all. The fact is that our committees have been instructed to dig out the causes of the difference. And until this question is fully addressed, the House would not rush into the issue of removal of fuel subsidy as requested by the executive arm of government.”

Aminu, also a former Minister of Education, said the country could not sustain the huge expenditure for too long as very few Nigerians enjoyed the subsidy while the masses of neighbouring countries feed fat on the policy

Among others, the House is seeking acceptable explanations on the reasons for the difference in the N500 billion spent on fuel subsidy last year and the N1.2 trillion alleged to have been spent on the same fuel subsidy so far this year.

Aminu said: “I am not going to mince words, honestly speaking, the subsidy is too much. Subsidy is just being used to convey these petroleum products to our neighbouring countries.

“How much is it costing the country? When I was the Petroleum Minister, it used to cost about N100 million to convey the subsidy, not even the subsidy itself, but to deliver it.

“When you look at it, it is not something that we can sustain and I believe that NNPC has a responsibility to bring the figures out now and let Nigerians know what we are losing by way of this subsidy,” he said.

The former minister noted that government position over the years had been misunderstood because of the method used in conveying it to the public.


Source: The Guardian

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