Friday, 20 April 2012


The House of Representatives has threatened to severe all legislative relationships with President Goodluck Jonathan, including refusing to pass the 2013 budget, if the Executive fails to implement the recommendations of its committee probing the fuel subsidy regime.

The committee had in its report made public on Wednesday directed various government agencies and companies with links to top government officials, to refund over N1 trillion allegedly misappropriated or stolen in the name of fuel subsidy.

Dropping the hint yesterday in Abuja, Chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Zakari Mohammed said the lawmakers were not ignorant of the Executive’s tradition of contempt for its resolutions, but assured that on the fuel subsidy probe, the House had found a way around the challenge.

“We are ingenious. The Executive also would come to us for somethings. We can use this as a pre-condition. It is that simple...We shall use all our legislative powers to ensure that after adoption, the report sees the light of the day,” assured Mohammed.

Just last week, the President had written the lawmakers begging them to increase the budgetary allocation to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) by N1.91 billion and N1.97 respectively. Several Executive bills are awaiting passage in the House of Representatives.

Also speaking, chairman of the committee probing the fuel subsidy regime, Hon. Farouk Lawan confirmed that several powerful figures from government had mounted pressure on his committee to spare some players in the fraudulent process he called “a bazaar” where “people just walked in and got allocations.” He denied reports that his committee chose to be hard on past officials of government in the petroleum sector, but lenient on incumbents, especially the minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke .

“When we indict the board and management of NNPC, you have to go and check the composition of the board of NNPC before rushing to judgment,” he said. On reports of pressures in the course of their investigations, Lawan admitted: “Yes, there were pressures. Pressures from those in government that ‘this wont be too good’...But from the beginning, I knew it would not be easy because we would be dealing with people who feel they can buy anybody. Fortunately for us, we were only eight in the committee and had not been involved in the industry. We were therefore able to communicate.”

He disclosed that his committee was able to put a lie to the claims of government officials that local refineries cannot refine enough petrol to meet local demand. The committee, observed Lawan, established that if local refineries were able to refine 235,000 barrels of the 445,000 barrels they are alloted daily, they would still be able to refine 40 million litres of petrol and 10 million litres of kerosine, which, he said, exceeded daily local demand.

“40 percent of those who imported petrol in 2011 under the fraudulent scheme have been stopped. How come there are no shortages resulting in fuel queues,” tasked Lawan. On why his committee recommended that foremost accounting firm Akintola Williams Deloitte and Olusola Adekanola and Partners be “be blacklisted from being engaged by any Federal Ministry, Department or Agency (MDA’s) for a period of three years,” Lawan said the firms claimed they made “over-recoveries” on behalf of the Federal Government, but that there was no evidence the monies were paid to the Petroleum Subsidy Fund.
From Chuks AKUNNA and Iheanacho NWOSU, Abuja
for sunnewsonline.com

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