Absence Of Minister, NNPC Officials Stall Kerosine Subsidy Probe

A public hearing into the supply, distribution and subsidy payments of kerosine from 2010 to 2013 by the House of Representatives has been postponed due to the absence of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and officials of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC).

The Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Down Stream), Dakuku Peterside said the exercise could not go on because, the ministry and NNPC were central to the kerosine subsidy regime and their absence made it difficult to continue the investigation.

The government agencies had written to the committee asking for more time to gather the data.

Expressing the displeasure of the committee, the chairman said the lawmakers are determined not to fail Nigerians as they work to uncover the secrecy surrounding the kerosine subsidy.

The announcement by the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Dakuku Peterside, for the postponement came after a long wait by stakeholders who were seated before 10 a.m.

Peterside said that the committee was compelled to postpone the hearing due to the absence of officials of the three agencies which were critical stakeholders in the investigation.

“It is not in the character of the seventh National Assembly to waste people’s time.

“On behalf of the committee, I want to apologise to you, we are going to be compelled by circumstances to put off this hearing to Feb. 18.

“We owe you a duty to carry out the investigation, we will not let you down, we want to apologise once more, we will move on with the hearing on Feb. 18.

He explained that several invitation letters were written to the agencies and ministry about the hearing, but they did not respond till the day of the hearing.

The letters partly reads: “I wish to inform you that the Honourable Minister together with the top management of the ministry and its agencies will be participating in the International Summit on Power Financing starting today, 10th February, 2014.

“As a result, we regret to inform you of our inability to honour your invitation. We are also currently engaged with the Senate Committee on Finance and it is not clear when their hearing will end.’’

NNPC in a letter signed by its General Manager, National Assembly Liaison, Mr M.B Bamanga, and dated Feb. 7 gave the same excuse.

“I am further directed to appeal to the Chairman to allow NNPC and its subsidiary sufficient time to collate the required documents and reschedule an alternate date for the appearance of our organisation at the hearing, please,’’ the letter reads.