Saraki Decries Use of $1.05bn NLNG Dividends for Fuel Subsidy

5
Bukola Saraki

PDP asks president to speak on expenditure

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Senate President Bukola Saraki has faulted reported use of $1.05billion, by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), from its dividends from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) for fuel subsidy.

Saraki said the Senate would, therefore, on resumption of plenary today investigate the claims made before the Senator Ahmad Lawan’s Ad-hoc Committee by the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru, on how and why the corporation diverted the dividend from the NLNG to defray the cost of under-recovery in the importation of fuel.

The Senate president, who was quoted as saying this while speaking with newsmen at the Ilorin airport on Monday, according to a statement by his media adviser, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, admitted that he had received series of telephone calls on the issue by many concerned Nigerians, “Who wanted to know the position of the Senate on the issues raised by the NNPC’s GMD before the Ahmad Lawan’s Ad-hoc Committee.”

Saraki expressed grave concern that the NNPC GMD was claiming that the illegal diversion of dividends from the NLNG, which should be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation for the purpose of funding the fuel subsidy “was done ‘in compliance with the National Assembly directive that NNPC as the supplier of last resort should, and has, maintained robust petrol supply”.

He wondered that “so, if the National Assembly called on NNPC to carry out its legitimate duty of ensuring adequate fuel supply to Nigerians, the GMD logically thinks the corporation by that call has the licence to perpetrate illegality, spend money without approval and violate appropriation laws”.

“It is my belief that if the National Assembly said the corporation should perform its duty effectively as a supplier of fuel to Nigerians without exposing people to needless suffering, that ought to be done within the ambit of the law.”

Saraki added that Senate probe of the unauthorised spending by NNPC will require the GMD to produce the approval given by the National Assembly and other necessary approving bodies authorising the NNPC to divert the dividend from the NLNG investment, “which ought to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund belonging to the three tiers of government, for the payment of fuel subsidy”.

According to him, the disclosure by the NNPC boss in response to enquiries by the Senate adhoc committee probing the issue of illegal payment of subsidy on fuel, called for further investigation by the Senate and also showed that as alleged in a motion moved earlier by Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, a lot of illegal and unapproved spendings are going on in the petroleum corporation.

He, therefore, assured Nigerians that Senate would thoroughly investigate this matter saying “there will be no cover up.”
Saraki also expressed confidence that the ad-hoc committee would do a thorough job.
“All the issues will be unearthed. That is why when the Senate set up investigative committees on issues, we want Nigerians to have confidence in us that we do not act because we want to embark on a wild goose chase. There must be some serious issues to be looked into. The revelations by the NNPC’s GMD have justified the need for this investigation and they have shown that we are acting in good faith.

“When in my ruling on the motion raised by Senator Olujimi, I insisted that we want a transparent, honest and non-partisan investigation on the fuel subsidy issue, it was clear to me and my colleagues that there are certain irregularities being perpetrated and we should let Nigerians know the truth. That is why we set up the committee in the first place and to demonstrate the seriousness we attach to the issue, we decided that the ad-hoc committee should be led by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad,” Senate President further said.
Baru had last Thursday told the Senator Lawan-led ad-hoc committee that the corporation spent $1.05billion to defray underrecovery cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from October, 2017 to date.

He emphasised that what the corporation did in the wake of shortfall in fuel supply between October 2017 and January 2018″ was to devise other means of securing PMS on the advise of the National Assembly.”
According to him, NNPC utilised $1.05billion from its dividends in NLNG to finance the additional landing and other expenses of PMS.

PDP Asks President to Speak

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to speak out on revelations of how N378 billion proceed from the NLNG dividends was allegedly siphoned by the Buhari Presidency cabal, under sleazy oil subsidy deals.

The main opposition party called on the National Assembly to immediately open an inquest into the N378 billion NLNG scandal and unravel who actually authorised the withdrawal, the beneficiaries, as well as what each APC leader got from this huge scam, with a view to exposing them and recovering the fund in the national interest.

The party in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said available intelligence shows that the presidency cabal cornered the money under the guise of subsidy payments but allegedly diverted a huge part of it to members of the cabal and some key APC leaders.

The PDP alleged that the siphoned money was used to finance their wasteful lifestyle, including acquiring posh property within and outside the country.
The party said, “Nigerians were startled by revelations of how the funds from the NLNG, an agency under President Buhari’s direct supervision as Minister of Petroleum, was secretly lifted and spent without the appropriation of the National Assembly.

“If there was no ulterior agenda; if the money was actually meant for payment of subsidy, why was it drawn and purportedly spent without recourse to the constitutionally required approval of the National Assembly and other due process procedures under our laws?”
Ologbondiyan noted that such humongous corruption and stealing of trillions of naira in the oil and gas sector, which is under Buhari’s purview, as Minister of Petroleum, is directly responsible for the biting economic recession and its attendant high cost of living, acute hunger and starvation, poor living standard in the country in the last three and half years.

He stated: “If the Buhari-led APC administration had curtailed its greed and allowed for a little transparency in governance, our nation would not be in the dire strait in which we have found ourselves today. In any case, what else does one expect from a government replete with avaricious individuals, certificate forgers and liars.”
The PDP challenged Buhari, as Mr. Integrity, to speak out on the monstrous corruption in his Presidency, which has also failed to offer explanations for the alleged siphoning of over N10 trillion from various sleazes, particularly in the oil and gas sector.