N150BN OIL MARKETERS’ BILL: Nigerians query payment directive from Abba Kyari
The directive from the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari, that the N150 billion owed to major marketers be paid immediately, has elicited some mixed reactions from stakeholders and other members of the public.
After a closed door meeting between Kyari and the leadership of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) on Wednesday, it was disclosed that the need to avert pending fuel scarcity, resulting from non settlement of the bill made it impetative for an urgent solution to be found.
An official said, “The Chief of Staff acted in his capacity as the coordinator of Mr. President’s official functions in acceding to the appeal of the marketers to solve the pressing problem that could cause more economic hardship on the people.”
Confirming that the ditective to urgently settle the bill had been issued, the Secretary to IPMAN, Zarma Mustapha, said it was the only way to avoid a pending doom for the marketing sub sector of the oil industry.
But many experts and other analysts have faulted the approach adopted for securing the payment.
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They reasoned that there is no other authority permitted by law to give such a directive other than that of the president, who in his absence is being deputized for by the Vice President.
Mr. Andrew Ezumkonye, a constituonal lawyer has this to say: “Nigeria is practising democracy, backed up by a constitution, which has all functions specified and as such there is no provision in the document making it possible for anybody not recognised by the law to issue a directive as per what Kyari is reported to have done.
“Even if he claims that his principal, President Buhari , had directed him to take such an action, officialdom demands that he could have passed such a message through the acting president.”
Dr. Solomon Ezomon, a senior lecturer at the Business Department, University of Lagos said the statement that the chief of Staff was making was akin to saying that some other forces are in control of the Presidency, contrary to what the public is meant to believe.
“Are we being told that there is no acting president, nor Minister of State for Petroleum, whose responsibility is to sort out any related issue as far as the oil and gas sector is concerned?
” Also, the public was recently informed that the Vice President, Prof. (Yomi) Osinbajo, is the head of the government’s economic team, which in addition to acting now as a president, has the authority to permit payments of any type. But a political appointee who is not supposed to be seen or heard is doing that. The government should quickly correct this wrong signal before it is given another interpretation.”
However, despite the controversy surrounding the directive for the settlement of N150 billion, Ripples Nigeria has learnt that there is still about $1.5 billion, which NNPC must pay the oil majors from the joint venture partnerships it entered with them and which became due for payment in 2016.
Although attempts to get NNPC’s spokesman, Ndu Ughanadu, to react failed, an official of the corporation said negotiations were ongoing on that.
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