The House of Representatives has said its investigation of the actual volume of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) Nigeria consumes daily and the current state of the nation’s refineries will continue despite the approval of N4tn for subsidy payment by the National Assembly.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamia, had on January 26, 2022, ordered separate investigations of the daily fuel consumption and the current state of the four national refineries, following a request by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), that the subsidy regime be extended.
Gbajabiamila had stated that the facts must first be made available before the Federal Government takes decisions on the subsidy being paid on petroleum products. “Those two things have to be determined before we get to the issue of fuel subsidy,” he said.
The Speaker had consequently set up two ad hoc committees to separately investigate the daily consumption of fuel and state of the refineries.
The House’ Ad Hoc Committee on the State of Refineries in Nigeria is chaired by Ganiyu Johnson, while the committee to determine the state of refineries is chaired by Abdulkadir Abdullahi.
However, despite that the committees had yet to conclude the probes and lay their reports, the Senate and the House on Thursday passed amendments to the 2022 Appropriation Act and 2022 Fiscal Framework, including raising the budget for PMS by N442.72bn, from N3.557tn to N4tn.
Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, who was contacted to explain why the lawmakers went ahead to approve the fund for subsidy payment, said the parliament could always amend the laws once there were new discoveries or developments.
Kalu noted that the National Assembly had the constitutional mandate to investigate if there were gaps in efficiency, block economic wastes by making the right inquiries and demanding the appropriate explanations on grey areas in any sector of the economy.
He said, “The work is quite enormous that putting the issue in question on hold pending the outcome of the investigation may not be the best strategic response to our current national economic realities.
“As you are aware, the Appropriation Act, just like any other piece of legislation from the parliament, is not cast on stones and can be amended at any time if our findings signal the need to respond with an adjustment, while awaiting the outcome of the investigation for the sake of nation building.
“Let me re-emphasise on behalf of the House that we are committed to the ongoing investigation and expect that the outcome will either confirm the current position or direct contrary. In both situations, the interest of Nigerians remains the determining factor.”
The Senate had in January said the Federal Government would have to justify the fresh demand of N3bn for the extension of the subsidy on petrol before it would be approved by the National Assembly.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Ajibola Basiru, was asked if the lawmakers would determine the actual volume of products consumed daily before approving the coming requests.
Basiru said, “Every request made to the National Assembly will be scrutinised by the relevant committees before we take a decision. We will scrutinise all the requests and see whether they are justifiable or not, in line with our constitutional mandate and oversight function.”
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