House Seeks to Unravel Fuel Subsidy Controversy, Investigate State of Refineries

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•Probes unclaimed funds in commercial banks

Udora Orizu and Juliet Akoje in Abuja

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila yesterday set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the actual volume of petrol consumed daily in order to determine the level of subsidy being paid by the government.

Gbajabiamila also set up another ad hoc committee to investigate the actual state of refineries so as to ascertain what it would cost to bring the refineries back to life again.

Speaking at the plenary, he noted that the time had come for the lawmakers to intervene on the issue, saying only when the investigation was carried out that the nation would be able to determine the actual volume of fuel consumed daily in the country and the amount of subsidy being paid by the government.

He said members of the Committee on fuel consumption, which would be headed by Abdullahi Ningi (APC, Bauchi). Others are Ahmed Satome, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, Usman Zanna, Leke Abejide, Uzoma Abonta, among others.

For state of the refineries, it would be headed by Ganiyu Johnson (APC, Lagos) and others are Yusuf Buba, Fred Obua, Akinfolarin Mayowa, Haruna Dederi, among others.

The Speaker tasked members of the committees to speak to various stakeholders, and not rely on just figures being paraded around.

“The committees has 4 weeks to present its report. In doing their work they should not restrict themselves to NNPC figures, as NNPC being an interested party of course. They should go far and wide, talk to experts, talk to labour, talk to national and international experts and those who will know.

“Talk to the motor vehicles registration centres, we just need to determine how much petrol we consume, talk to the transport companies, deal with facts and figures,” the Speaker said.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the unclaimed funds in commercial banks and the infractions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Consequently, the House set up an Ad-hoc Committee chaired by Hon. Unyime Idem (PDP, Akwa-Ibom) to carry out the investigation.

The House mandated the Committee to also investigate the unremitted funds collected on behalf of agencies and

departments of the federal government by banks.

The resolutions were sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Dachung Bagos (PDP, Plateau) at the plenary.

Moving the motion, Bagos noted that the Bank Verification Number (BVN) was introduced by the CBN in 2014, to the Nigerian banking system as a way of checking and combating money laundering, illicit financing and duplicitous ownership of bank accounts used for fraud.

He said about seven years after the introduction of the BVN, about 45.85 million bank accounts across Nigeria were yet to be linked to BVNs as data released by the Nigerian Inter–Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) on June 23, 2021, disclosed that the total number of bank accounts in Nigeria as of May 2019 was pegged at 122.071 million and the active accounts as of May, 2020 stood at 72.936 million.

In a related development, the House of representatives has mandated its Committee on Labour Employment and Productivity to develop a comprehensive industrial revolution template featuring both economic and social impact projections to engage over 11 million unemployed Nigerian youths and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion on the need to Combat Unemployment and Social Vices through Establishment of Industries Across the Federation moved by Hon. Chinedu Emeka Martins.

Martins noted that, “the unprecedented rate of unemployment is the root of the social vices currently experienced in the country

and 33.3 per cent unemployment and the 28 per cent youth unemployment rates amounting to over 11 million unemployed youths verifies the lack of cottage industries in the country, which should have played a critical role in engaging youthful energy positively in the production of raw materials as well as semi–finished products, thus distract young people from taking up social vices as the only alternative for survival and social mobility.”