Senator Magnus Abe
By Dele Ogbodo
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Down Stream sub sector, Senator Magnus Abe, and his House of Representatives counterpart, Hon. Peterside Dakuku, Tuesday walked out the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Mr. Reginald Stanley, over his inability to give full details of the total amount that accrued to the agency from the 15 kobo per litre charge from kerosene imported into the country.
The mild drama occurred during PPPRA’s 2013 budget defence session. The lawmakers were said to have been infuriated at the agency’s use of its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), which amounted N5,725,920,535.00, as running cost to pay the salaries of 249 members of staff of PPPRA.
The lawmakers anger, it was gathered, stemmed from the fact that PPPRA should have consulted the National Assembly before spending the money.
Consequently, the lawmakers ordered the PPPRA boss to furnish them with how much had been raised, how it was spent as well receipts and vouchers used in the process.
The PPPRA boss, however, stated that given the fact that N5.7 billion was appropriated in 2012 as salaries, N4,956,580,172.45 was released by the Ministry of Finance, while N4.920,705,729.16 was spent with 99.28 per cent as level of implementation, just as he explained that basic salary gulped N2,167,702,293.00; regular allowances, N2,130,836,029.00; non-regular allowances, N1,153,044,623.00; National Health Scheme (NHIS), N113, 874,723.00; pension, N160,462,867.00.
Before the commencement of the budget defence, Abe had frowned at the attitude of operators in the oil sector, who he claimed spent directly from the consolidated revenue fund without appropriation by the National Assembly.
He stressed that the Joint Session of the Senate and House of Representatives for the budget defence was designed to save time.
“What I want to bring to our attention is the attitude of some of our operators in the sector who always think that except appropriations are drawn directly from the consolidated revenue fund, they are not accountable to parliament for it.
“I want to make it very, very clear that except the money that you get from your father’s farm or your grandfather’s farm is spent, any money that comes through you, or to you or is expended through any agency as part of the public responsibility is subject to review by the people of Nigeria and the National Assembly that represents the interests of the people of Nigeria.
“So nobody can receive money on behalf of the Nigerian people, spend it on his own behalf without reference to the National Assembly. I say it in particular to those agencies that are by law allowed to generate and make their own expenditure that all those expenditures that are not drawn directly on the national budget must also come here and be approved by the parliament.
“And except it is approved, nobody should spend any money or disburse any fund that is not pre-approved by the parliament. So if that has been going on in the past, I believe that in this meeting today, we should put a final stop to it; it shouldn’t happen again. In fact I want all of us to take that into consideration. That is just what I wanted to say,” he added.
Continuing, he said: “We should not assume that budget is a yearly ritual, it is certainly not a yearly ritual you know or you assume it to be. We have agreed to take up this exercise to ensure that the interest of the Nigerian people is protected in the course of the budgetary process and our resources are applied in the areas where they are truly needed. In this era of reforms, one great tool to reform is the budget that is why we are taking our budgetary process very seriously.”