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Senate Rejects Motion to Summon Buhari over Fuel Scarcity

Ayodele Afolabi,  Abuja

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Senate has rejected calls to summon President Muhammadu Buhari to address the Senate in his capacity as Petroleum Minister over the lingering problem of petroleum scarcity.

Some Senators belonging to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) had argued at Tuesday’s plenary session that the Senate should summon the substantive petroleum minister to explain the steps being taken to address the key issues in the petroleum sector but were  overruled by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who cautioned Senators against bringing partisan politics into national development issues.

However, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senators disagreed with their All Progressives Congress (APC) counterparts over an aspect of the motion that sought to commend President Muhammadu Buhari for steps being taken to address the problems in the oil sector.

The motion which was sponsored by Senator Barau Jibrin (APC Kano North ), had urged the Senate to “commend the President‎ for his diligence and uncommon commitment to resolving the intractable issue of petroleum products supply nd distribution and the commendable efforts made so far to clean up all institutions associated with the petroleum industry”

Opposing the resolution which was supported by all APC Senators, Senator Emmanuel Paulker (PDP, Bayelsa State) queried:‎”Why should the motion say that we ‎should thank a government over this problem of fuel scarcity when Nigerians are suffering?‎”

He advised that Government should stop restricting importation of fuel to the Nigerian National petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to facilitate the efforts to resolve the problem.

Paulker noted that it was becoming disturbing that despite stories that refineries had been fixed, Nigeria was still having these problems.

He suggested that “the petroleum minister should tell us what has happened to the supply chain.”

‎In his own contribution, Senator Gbenga Ashafa ( APC, Lagos) advised that steps should be taken to ensure the functioning of refineries in the countries”

Senator Aleiro Adamu (APC, Kebbi Central) in his contribution to the debate suggested that‎ individuals should be allowed to import and sell fuel. He canvassed the immediate removal of subsidy on petroleum products.

He said: “It is time we should support the executive in removing the subsidy on petroleum products because if we remove it, whatever money we get could be channelled to other productive ventures”.

Senator Ehinnanya Abaribe (PDP Abia South) thanked senator Jibrin for admitting that change had not come particularly in respect of fuel scarcity but his moves for the invitation of President Buhari by the Senate on the lingering fuel scarcity and  that Nigerians should be commended for their patience with government on this problem were shut down.

Meanwhile, the N 465.6 billion Supplementary Appropriation bill forwarded to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last week for approval, passed second reading in the senate.

Accordingly, the  Senate  directed it’s committee on appropriation headed by Senator Danjuma Goje ( APC Gombe Central), to work on the supplementary appropriation  bill and submit report to it  next week for passage into law.

It also decried the persistent untold hardship inflicted on Nigerians by the scarcity of petrol and directed it’s committee on Petroleum (Downstream) to ‎examine issues militating  against efforts put in place to resolve the problems associated with the scarcity of fuel.

The decision to ‎pass the  supplementary budget was to facilitate the efforts to pay the outstanding subsidy claims of N413.3 billion to marketers.

At the debate of the general principles of the appropriation bill yesterday, Senators agreed that the bill be speedily processed to complement the efforts of the executive arm of government in resolving the crisis generated by the delay in the payment of the subsidy claims.

President Muhammadu Buhari in his request for approval of the supplementary budget of N465, 636, 926, 857, sought for the payment of petroleum subsidy claims amounting to N413, 363, 134, 505.

The N465. 6 billion supplementary budget proposal is made up of N460.6 for additional recurrent (non-debt) expenditure while the balance of N5 billion is for capital expenditure.

The supplementary budget is predicated on oil production of 2.2003 million barrels per day, oil benchmark price of $48 per barrel and an exchange rate of N190 to US$1.

It also showed security provision of N29,958,865,512, subsidy sum of N413,363,134,505 as well as payment of severance gratuity and allowances of out gone and incoming legislators and legislative aides totalling N10,618,837,435


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