Senate Panel Blames Jonathan For Illegal N685bn Spending

The Senate Committee on Finance has said that President Goodluck Jonathan should be blamed for the unilateral spending of N685.910bn by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation   on kerosene subsidy in 2012 and 2013.

The committee which probed the alleged $49.8bn missing oil money, said Jonathan set aside a directive by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2010 that kerosene subsidy payments should be stopped.

It added that the President defended the disbursement of the whopping sum   by the NNPC without appropriation by the National Assembly.

In the report which was obtained by our correspondent on Monday, the committee noted that Yar’Adua stopped the subsidy payments because Nigerian masses were not the   beneficiaries.

The committee lamented that Jonathan’s decision to set aside   the directive by Yar’Adua made the Federal Government to spend N353.3bn in 2012 and N332.5bn in 2013 on kerosene subsidy payments.

It said that Nigerian masses bought the kerosene above the pump price during the periods under review.

The report stated that the “amount may exceed this (figure quoted) because certification by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency   between August and December 2013 was an interim one”.

It added, “Mr. President (Jonathan), having publicly defended payments of kerosene subsidy clearly shows that the said Presidential directive by the late   Yar’Adua had been set aside by the current President.

“Therefore, it (kerosene subsidy payment) is not a unilateral action of any individual (in the petroleum agency). However, it remains unconstitutional since it is not appropriated for by the National Assembly.”

The report further stated that investigations revealed that the Federal Government spent N965.4m every day in 2012 on   kerosene subsidy and N908.5m daily in 2013.

The N685.910bn, according to the report, was part of the $20bn to be accounted for based on the submission of a   former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Lamido Sanusi.

The report noted that Jonathan’s action was contrary to Section 80 (2), (3), and (4) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria constitution (as ammended), which stipulates that, no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation without the approval of the National Assembly.

The committee therefore asked Jonathan to prepare and present to the National Assembly, a supplementary budget to cover the N685.910bn spent by the NNPC without appropriation for kerosene subsidy.

It further noted that since no amount was asked for kerosene subsidy in the 2014 budget, the NNPC should not make further deductions in that regard.

The committee   also recommended the immediate stoppage of the subsidy regime both on petrol (pms) and kerosene (DPK).

The report added, “The Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Petroleum Resources differ on position of subsidy on kerosene.

“The Coordinating Minister for the Economy/Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo – Iweala, testified that she had not authorised any payment/expenditure of subsidy on kerosene and that there was no budgetary provision for it.

“The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison – Madueke, also agreed that there was no budgetary provision for subsidy on DPK (kerosene) but noted that her ministry continued to make payments for it in the overall interest of the masses.

“Mr. President,   in his media chat on   February 24, 2013 aired on the Nigerian Television Authority and other television stations, defended the deductions for kerosene subsidy.

“There is therefore, the need for the subsidy regime to be totally discontinued with. However, all stakeholders should be consulted and carried along as much as possible before abolishing the subsidy.”

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