The House of Representative on Tuesday adopted 29 and amended six of the 60 recommendations by the ad-hoc committee that probed the management of the fuel subsidy management in Nigeria.
The House of Representatives considered 35 of the recommendations made by the committee after it decided to move from plenary into the committee sessions which was presided by the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha.
The session started with an opening remarks by the Chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Farouk Lawan, who in his address said that sharp practices had been going on for a long time in the industry leading to a short-changing of the citizenry.
Mr Lawan said that his committee carried out the assignment with utmost fairness and a high sense of responsibility and all relevant parties to the matter were invited.
He noted their investigation revealed that the subsidy was grossly mismanaged by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
He also revealed part of the financial misappropiation discovered was the tranfer of N999 million 128 times in 24 hours.
Mr Lawan asked the House of Representative to adopt his committee’s report and recommendations saying that “it was an exercise conducted under immense pressure” but that will help the nation.
“I urge you to dispassionately and objectively look at the recommendations in this report and to adopt same as Nigerians are watching,” he said.
Following Mr Lawan submission, the presiding officer of the committee of whole asked that the recommendations be debated one after the other.
The lawmakers unanimously adopted recommendations one to three of the report.
The amended recommendations
The fifth recommendation in the report was the first that was amended.
Samson Osagie says the Clause is open-ended. That it asks for the audit of NNPC. He proposed an amendment that the “House do hereby direct that the NNPC should be audited within three months by the Auditor-General of the Federation to determine its solvency.”
Femi Gbajabiamila opposed the motion for a government official to be responsible for auditing the NNPC account. He insisted that the task should be given to the Public Accounts Committee or an independent audit firm.
However, the Chairman, Public Accounts Committee, Adeola Olalekan, told the House that the procedure is that all agencies of the Federal Government are audited by external auditors.
He said that in the case of NNPC, the committee has received audited accounts of NNPC up till 2008, leaving 2009, 2010 and 2011. He advised the House to ask the Auditor General office to carry out the audit of NNPC.
The House therefore amended the recommendation and demanded that the Auditor General should audit the NNPC account till date within the next three months.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa moved a motion to amend recommendation eight and that the NNPC should refund N25 billion to the treasury within three months.
The initial report did not give a time frame for the refund. Her motion was adopted and the recommendation was so amended.
The lawmakers spent lot of time debating the amendment on the 25th recommendation of the report which insisted that the oil marketers, who participated in fuel subsidy fund but failed to either submit documents or appear before the probe committee should be sanctioned.
The Chairman House of Representative Committee on Justice, Ali Ahmed said that the House has powers to compel attendance of any person or organisation at a hearing.
While he asked the House to move against the companies on the criminal allegations levelled against them, he said that on the principle of fair hearing, these companies be given a second chance to appear before the ad-hoc committee.
His recommendation was adopted and the recommendation was so adopted.
Another representative Musa Zaikida moved the motion that the word “reprimand”’ in recommendation 16 of the report be changed to “prosecute”.
The House adjourned hearing on the remaining recommendations to Wednesday.