The upper chamber of the National Assembly will today (Tuesday) probe claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the rationale behind the diversion of dividends of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to maintain the N145 per litre pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as Petrol.
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Senate President Bukola Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in a statement on Monday, said Saraki made the disclosure while speaking with newsmen at the Ilorin Airport.
The lawmakers had set up an ad hoc committee chaired by the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, to investigate an alleged $3.5 billion account kept by the corporation for the payment of petrol subsidy.
But NNPC Group Managing Director (GMD), Maikanti Baru, had last week, while appearing before the Senate committee, said the NNPC only spent $1.05 billion from the NLNG dividend account to pay for “under-recovery” in fuel Importation.
Saraki said the investigation became necessary because of Baru’s response to enquiries before the Lawan-led committee, adding that the response showed that “a lot of illegal and unapproved spendings are going on in the petroleum corporation.”
The statement quoted Saraki as saying, “There must be some serious issues to be looked into. The revelations by the NNPC’s GMD have justified the need for this investigation and they have shown that we are acting in good faith.
“We are, however, shocked that the NNPC’s GMD was claiming that the illegal diversion of dividends from the NLNG, which should be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federation for the purpose of funding the fuel subsidy, was done ‘in compliance with the National Assembly directive that the NNPC as the supplier of last resort should, and has, maintained robust petrol supply.’
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“So, if the National Assembly called on the NNPC to carry out its legitimate duty of ensuring adequate fuel supply to Nigerians, the GMD logically thinks the corporation, by that call, has the license to perpetrate illegality, spend money without approval and violate appropriation laws.
“It is my belief that if the National Assembly said the corporation should perform its duty effectively as a supplier of fuel to Nigerians without exposing people to needless suffering, that ought to be done within the ambit of the law.”
The Senate President assured that the GMD will be made to produce the approval given by the National Assembly and other necessary approving bodies authorising the NNPC to divert the dividend from the NLNG investment.
He explained the diverted funds meant for the payment of fuel subsidy ought to be paid into the CRF belonging to the three tiers of government.
Saraki further assured “all issues will be unearthed,” adding that the lawmakers repose so much confidence on the panel to do a thorough job.
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