MUSA BABA AHMED, Abuja
A move to summon the Pipeline Product and Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and major oil marketers with a view to finding out contentious issues responsible for the lingering fuel scarcity and efforts made to resolving same was yesterday rejected by federal lawmakers in the House of Representatives.
The motion which suffered a crushing defeat following an unfavourable voice vote was brought in by Hon. Karimi Sunday Steve (PDP, Kogi); calling attention of lawmakers to what called “a national embarrassment necessitated by needless disagreement.”
Speaking on the motion, Hon. Sunday told the plenary that: “The fuel scarcity that has persisted for about four weeks now has become a national embarrassment for us as a nation, despite our status as the 6th largest oil producer in the world.”
“As we speak, PMS sells in most places at the rate of 120 and 150 naira depending on where it is available which is against the official pump price of N87.
“Marketers and government have continued to trade blames and nobody seems to be accepting responsibility. Whereas marketers claim they are being owed lots of subsidy arrears, government claims otherwise.
“Major oil marketers and dealers are laying different claims to what government is owing them. The House therefore summon the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), PPMC, and oil marketers to brief it on efforts made to address the current situation.
So I urge the House to mandate the House Committee on Petroleum (downstream) to liaise with both parties and report back to the House on Thursday. I also call on the incoming government to find a lasting solution to this matter”, Karimi pointed out.
He said the lingering fuel crisis is fast crippling economic activities around the nation, adding that the development has made life unbearable for Nigerians in all ramifications.
Deputy Leader of the House, Leo Ogor in his effort to drum support for the motion told colleagues that the House must wade into the crisis in order to stem the culture of what he called “wastage in the name of subsidy”.
He said: “As a nation, we have spent huge amount of resources on subsidy where fuel marketers are holding us to ransom. The crux of this matter as I understand it is purely based on impulse.
“Impulse in the sense that they can wake up anytime they want and stop fuel importation and distribution because somebody wants to be seen as relevant all time due to our lack of refining capacity.
“For how long shall we continue to be held hostage by our own people? How long shall we continue to pay subsidy when our refineries are lying comatose? How will we be able to develop our economy and invest in refineries if we continue to pay huge amount on subsidy claims that in most cases are not even tenable?” Ogor queried.
According to Hon. Inna Ismaila Hussain (PDP, Kogi): “if you look at what’s going on, you would know that its greatly affecting the economy of the country”.
“Just a few days ago, there were discrepancies as to how much is in contention. A situation where the marketers cannot come out with a definite amount that’s been owed and the government too cannot look at their documents to determine how much it’s owing, then it’s quite worrisome.
“So I urge the parties to clearly state their case and resolve it in the interest of the country”, he said.
However, Hon. Osai Nicolas Osai (PDP, Delta) punctured their line of argument saying that the timing was wrong and belated as the issues in contention had been dealt with on Monday at a meeting between the Finance minister and the marketers.
“I disagree with this motion, because it’s coming very late and standing on a very weak premise. The issue involved has to do with subsidy payment. Whether the amount is correct or not is not the matter, but what is – is that government should follow procedure in the payment of whatever it’s owing the marketers.
“The minister of Finance and marketers were in a meeting which ended yesterday and that matter has been resolved. So the House would be wasting resources and energy in trying to dabble into this matter.
“And we are not here to waste energy and resources but discuss concrete national issues. So we should shy away from doing the job of the Federal government by allowing the process that has been concluded yesterday to be implemented.
“So I urge my brothers who have supported the motion to jettison their position so that it can be thrown into the dustbin of history”, Osai argued.
The motion which had an amendment made to its prayers was put to the question by presiding officer, Emeka Ihedioha and was killed by a voice vote of Nays against the Ayes.