Senate Approves Additional N161.6 Billion For Subsidy
President Goodluck Jonathan had on Tuesday sent a letter to the National Assembly requesting approval for an additional N161.6 billion to ensure steady supply of petroleum products during the festive season.
The approval followed a motion by the Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi, that the supplementary budget be given accelerated passage ‚Äúin view of the emergency nature of the bill.‚ÄĚ
All the senators expressed support for the passage of the bill saying that it would alleviate the suffering of Nigerians, ensure peace and stability of the nation.
Senator Smart Adeyemi faulted the national economic team for the delay in the presentation of its request for additional funds.
He, however, said, ‚ÄúAs representatives of the people, we have to support this request because it would improve the wellbeing of the masses.‚ÄĚ
In his contribution, Ayogu Eze (PDP-Enugu), hailed the Federal Government for acknowledging that there was large scale corruption in the subsidy scheme.
He urged Nigerians to support the government‚Äôs effort to address the graft in the oil subsidy regime.
‚ÄúIt is a challenge for Nigerians to decide whether to allow few individuals to continue to feed fat on our commonwealth or to stop this process that encourages corruption,‚ÄĚ Mr Eze said.
Ahmed Lawan (ANPP- Yobe) urged the Senate to henceforth scrutinise government expenditure before considering requests for supplementary appropriation.
‚ÄúWe need to be very thorough and insist on getting relevant information in good time before we do supplementary budgets.
‚ÄúThey talk about forensic audit but we have not seen the report. There is no evidence to show that we require N161.6 billion.
‚ÄúI support the passage of this bill for the sake of my people,‚ÄĚ he said.
Gbenga Ashafa (ACN- Lagos) appealed to the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) to conclude investigation into the management of the fuel subsidy.
‚ÄúWhile I support the passage, I want this Senate to ensure that investigation into the fuel subsidy is completed because Nigerians need to know,‚ÄĚ Mr Ashafa said.
Nkechi Nwaogu (PDP-Abia), blamed opposition political parties for protesting against government‚Äôs move to totally remove the oil subsidy.
According to her, the corruption being witnessed in the subsidy would have been nipped in the bud if the people have supported the attempt to scrap the subsidy.
‚ÄúIt is not the fault of the President, or is it the fault of PDP but it‚Äôs the fault of the opposition parties which would not allow the total removal of fuel subsidy,‚ÄĚ she said.
Stop corruption or subsidy
The Senate President, David Mark, decried the high level of corruption being perpetrated under the fuel subsidy scheme urging the Federal Government to stop the fuel subsidy if it was unable to stop the high level of corruption being perpetrated under the scheme.
‚ÄúIt is not a secret anymore that there is so much corruption in the fuel subsidy industry in whatever system they are adopting.
‚ÄúThe nation must make a decision now, whether to continue this or to stop it. The nation must make that decision sooner than later because we cannot carry on this way.
‚ÄúIf they can‚Äôt eliminate and stop the corruption in the system, then, the other alternative will be to stop the whole exercise of the fuel subsidy.
‚ÄúWe must take the one that is easier and the one that will bring less pain to Nigerians,‚ÄĚ he said.
Mr Mark commended the lawmakers for supporting the quick passage of the supplementary appropriation, in the interest of the masses.
He said the proposal should have been forwarded in good time to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians.
‚ÄúThey should have anticipated that there was going to be a shortfall when they first made this presentation at the beginning of the year.
‚ÄúThat did not happen. We are now shouldered with the responsibility of this additional approval.
‚ÄúWe have done so in the best interest of this country,‚ÄĚ he said.