Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
By Onwuka Nzeshi
The bid by the House of Representatives to investigate the implementation of the Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P) was Tuesday stalled following the absence of all the ministers invited to make presentations at the investigative hearing.
Among those who shunned the event were the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Dieziani Allison-Madueke; Minister of Transport, Senator Abdullahi Umar; Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs , Chief Godsday Orubebe and Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Worgu.
The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was also absent at the hearing, a situation that angered the lawmakers.
The House had late last year, mandated the Joint Committees on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Finance, States and Local Governments to investigate the level of implementation of the SURE-P to ascertain if it had been working according to its set goals and achieving the objectives.
The former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and head of the Presidential Committee on SURE-P, Mr. Christopher Kolade was also absent but sent apologies. But the Director General of Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogwu and others who were present were not allowed to make any presentation.
Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Hon. Dakuku Peterside, who head the investigation, condemned what he described as a “deliberate decision of the ministers not to honour the invitation of the House” to the hearing.
Peterside said that the absence of the ministers and other key stakeholders in the programme has forced the committee to postponed the investigation to February 12, 2013.
Peterside however warned that the attitude of the executive in shunning public hearings and resolutions of the House was a mark of disrespect which will no longer be tolerated.
“We are absolutely not happy with the development today. You may observe that all the Ministers who should be here are not here. All the Ministers we invited have intentionally refused to come.
“These people have intentional disrespect for the Parliament and the proceedings of the parliament and this is unacceptable to us,” Peterside said.
The Presidential Committee on Subsidy Re-investment was set up in the wake of the fuel subsidy protests early last year.
It was mandated to deploy the revenue accruals from the partial removal of subsidy on petroleum products to deliver some social services and build critical infrastructure that could alleviate the plight of Nigerians.