Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 31 May 2019 | 559 times
As lawmakers are preparing to wind up the 8th National Assembly, the issue of fuel subsidy was again brought to the front burner and the legislators made frantic effort to nip any consequential issues arising from it in the bud.
During the plenary on Thursday, the parliamentarians called on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to caution itself against dealing with subsidy issues.
This followed the consideration of the report of the Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector on the Promissory Note Programme and a Bond Issuance to settle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual obligations to Petroleum Marketers as submitted by Senator Kabir Marafa, who represents Zamfara Central.
In his contribution, the Senator representing Anambra Central, lamented that “it is very sad for the country that the fuel that we use to drive our cars are not manufactured in Nigeria and the cash spent on this is outrageous.
He 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?”
He expressed worry that the Federal Government has refused to face the problem, noting that “everyone is depending on oil revenue and yet no functional refineries have been set in place.”
Suggesting a solution, he opined that the government should be able to plan to build five refineries, arguing that “exchange rates are not the problem, but our inability to do what others are doing is the main issue.”
Passing the bulk to the 9th Senate, Senator Barnabas Gemade (Benue North East) asked: “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.”
Responding, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the plenary, said: “Distinguished Colleagues, I want us to note that we are coming to a closure on this as parliamentarians, I hope we can close the books in respect of that and think of the best way to deal with the subsidy issues. The factory aspect of it is what Senator Marafa told us; the issue of subsidy is now a first line charge on oil drilling which is extremely dangerous.”
While charging the next Assembly to sit with the Executive to address this issue and resolve it without creating unnecessary tension, he thanked Senator Marafa and his colleagues for the painstaking work they have done in respect of this report.
Ekweremadu added: “Having said this, I would like to thank all of us for looking into this report and trying to find lasting solutions. I hope that those who are owing are able to pay back the banks and get back to their businesses while we find lasting solutions to the issue of subsidy.
“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.”
In his remarks, the Senator representing Edo South, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, stated that “government should be serious in its policies and not be directionless in executing these policies.”
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