Senate slams FG for spending N11 trillion on subsidy in six years
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Senate slams FG for spending N11 trillion on subsidy in six years

- The Nigerian Senate has slammed the federal government for paying out the sum of N11 trillion to oil marketers as subsidy in the last six years

- The upper legislative chamber condemned the excessive subsidy payments while considering the report of its committee on downstream petroleum sector

- The lawmakers berated the federal government for paying a subsidy to oil marketers over the years without approval from the Senate and the House of Representatives

The Nigerian Senate on Thursday, May 30 slammed the federal government for paying out the sum of N11 trillion to oil marketers as subsidy in the last six years, declaring that the development could kill the nation’s economy.

The upper legislative chamber condemned the excessive subsidy payments while considering the report of its committee on downstream petroleum sector heard by Senator Kabiru Marafa, Tribune reports.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) senator representing Zamfara central, while presenting the report, told his colleagues that Nigeria spent over N11 trillion to pay outstanding subsidy claims in the last six years.

Senator Marafa’s read in part: “That due to the scarcity of forex within the period, oil marketing companies were allowed to source forex outside CBN rate to enable them to meet the country’s petroleum products demand.

“That NNPC Retail get their petroleum product allocation directly from PPPMC at an already subsidized rate and so does not require forex to transact its business.”

READ ALSO: Buhari alerted over alleged $2bn recovered loot yet to be returned to FG since 2015

The lawmakers berated the federal government for paying a subsidy to oil marketers over the years without approval from the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Senator Barnabas Gemade said that 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.

“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.

“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,” the senator from Benue said.

Others who contributed and condemned the subsidy payment were, Senators Bassey Akpan ( PDP Akwa Ibom North East), Victor Umeh ( APGA Anambra Central) and Mathew Urhoghide ( PDP Edo South).

On his part, Senator Victor Umeh from 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 the sale of our crude to build refineries?

“The government should give us a programme to enable us to 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”

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the session 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.”

He said 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 the 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,” he added.

READ ALSO: APC deputy chairman demands Oshiomhole's resignation

Meanwhile, a former deputy national publicity secretary of the APC, Comrade Timi Frank has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take responsibility, “for his colossal failure to make any positive impact in the last years.”

Frank in a statement on Tuesday, May 27 in Abuja, advised the president not to blame his shortcomings on the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara.

Comrade Frank was reacting to the president's comments during a recent interview where he passed a vote of no confidence on the National Assembly leaders.

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