Leadership (Abuja)

6 November 2013

Nigeria: SURE-P - NNPC Can't Account for N500 Billion - Senate

The Senate Ad-hoc Committee on the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) says the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) is unable to account for N500 billion accruing to the programme.

The deputy Senate leader, Abdul Ningi, who doubles as chairman of the Senate SURE-P committee, said the programme is being undermined from the inside, adding that the NNPC failed to show up at the Senate to explain the discrepancy in the funds for the programme.

Members of the committee, who also expressed dissatisfaction over the gross misapplication and mismanagement of SURE-P funds, took their turns to blast the petroleum minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, NNPC boss Andrew Yakubu, and CBN's Sanusi Lamido Sanusi for failing to honour the invitation extended by the committee.

According to Senator Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara, APC), a member of the SURE-P Senate committee, N800 billion had been generated so far from subsidy as against N300 billion claimed by SURE-P.

Marafa said: "This committee wrote to the relevant organisations that benefit from this SURE-P when it was inaugurated. It was said that the subsidy regime was going to be N32 a litre and this committee wrote the NNPC to ascertain the quantity of fuel being imported from the time this subsidy programme started.

"NNPC replied the committee that from January 2012 to December 2013, which if you calculate it will give about 21 months... they gave a breakdown of the quantity per month. When you put up everything, it comes to roughly 25 billion litres per month.

"Now, if you multiply 25 billion by 32, you get about N800 billion, and what SURE-P told us when they came here when we invited them was that they collected about N300 billion at N15 billion flat rate per month. So if you multiply 21 by 15 billion, you will get about N315 billion. So what we are talking about is the amount involved, which is N500 billion, where is it? That is what we wanted NNPC to tell us."

He further said: "They are the ones importing the fuel, they are the custodians. I was surprised that CBN was not here because they are the custodians but, if anything, if their top management was here, the question of how they came about the N15 billion they are remitting to SURE-P would have been asked. Since CBN are the custodians of the money, so how did CBN come about remitting to SURE-P then? We will be told."

He added: "Maybe CBN will tell us this is what NNPC is remitting to them; maybe NNPC will say no, we have been remitting this amount of money, but CBN is remitting on N15 billion. So, they are remitting only N15 billion; then we will ask CBN: how did you come about the N15 billion flat rate, because this thing can't be a flat rate?"

" In January 2012, the nation consumed about 1.3 billion litres but if you look at February 2013,we consumed about 941 billion litres. So you can see that the remittances are supposed to be fluctuating, but when SURE-P came, they told the committee that they had been receiving N15 billion monthly. So we asked, how did they come about it?

Chairman of the committee Senator Ningi lambasted the officials of the NNPC who failed to show up for the hearing, noting that it shows the programme is being undermined from the inside.

Senator Ningi also said the non-appearance of the NNPC further confirms the fears and reservations of a lot of Nigerians on the secrecy of the implementation of the SURE -P programme.

He also threatened that the National Asembly would not continue to give legitimacy through appropriation to the programme. Ningi said, "Today, we are once again confronted by the forces of anti-democracy, people who unfortunately do not understand what this kind of system provides the executive, the legislature and the judiciary; what makes our democracy different from military regime.

"Today, again, we sat here glued to our seat for over one hour awaiting the arrival of the official of the NNPC or their agents and the Central Bank or their agents. As we were speaking, we sent letters of invitation to both agencies which were duly acknowledged."

Ningi continued: "I have been a member of the National Assembly right from inception and I have never seen this crass impunity and disregard of constituted authority. When we deliberated on the issue of the minister of works, I was expecting official reprimand from the presidency and now we have a repeat from the agents of the president

"I think what this tells us is that this SURE-P which seems to be, for me, a cardinal programme of this government is being undermined from the inside. I have no doubt in my mind that their non-appearance today further confirms our fears and the reservations of a lot of Nigerians on the secrecy of the implementation of the SURE -P programme. And part of our mandate is to unbundle -- to open up -- the details of the implementation of the programme.

"We thought that NNPC is a key to this programme and we wanted to compare notes with the CBN as to moneys that accrue to this programme directly from the NNPC.

"Our intention was to make it plain to Nigerians that no one is hiding anything. When the Ministry of Works did not show up, we went to the Senate president and he assured us that he was taking the case personally to the president.

"We are building evidences against those who are using SURE-P for anything and, at the end of the day, this programme must come to an end if that is what they want. The National Assembly will not continue to give legitimacy through appropriation to our collective inheritance where the three individuals who run it will not come to give account of the moneys that accrue to this programme.

"We will not be provoked into not continuing with this job. Our job is to keep inviting them. We will not succumb to this unfortunate attitude because we are elected directly by the people and all of them are appointed by the president directly and are therefore accountable to us, and we are accountable to the people.

"This committee and indeed the Senate will use every legitimate opportunity in calling to order those who treat us with impunity and disdain."

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