The absence of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke and the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Tuesday stalled the probe by the House of Representatives into the implementation of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).
Other Ministers and government officials who were absent include the Minister of Labour and Productivity, the Minister of Transport and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, alongside ministers of health, Onyebuchi Chukwu; transport, Idris Umar; labour, Emeka Worgu, were scheduled to give testimonies at the House of Representatives hearing on the controversies over implementation of SURE-P.
The Accountant General of the federation, Jonah Otunla, was also to appear at the sitting conducted by the House joint committees on downstream petroleum, finance, states and local government.
All the officials, including Christopher Kolade, who heads the federal government SURE-P, boycotted the meeting, forcing the lawmakers to reschedule the hearing.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Resources (downstream), Peterside Dakuku accused the abstaining ministers and government officials of “deliberate contempt’ for the parliament.
“This intentional act of disrespect will not be condoned,” he said.
President Goodluck Jonathan had established the SURE-P as a palliative after the January 2012 demonstrations which opposed government’s removal of the subsidy. The programme was to convert funds recovered from the subsidy scrapping, into tangible infrastructures and jobs.
Under the scheme, every state of the federation and the federal capital, Abuja, is to provide a minimum of 10,000 jobs, while new rail, and power projects, are to be implemented with the monies saved from the partial removal of fuel subsidy.
The House of Representatives had accused the subsidy committee of duplicating projects with the ministries, and defrauding the nation by making double payments for projects also financed by the ministries.
The lawmakers were told how the Kolade-led committee spent N2.2 billion on “secretariat services” and another N75 million on travels between July and October.
Another N27 billion was also spent on “Public Works for Youths”, and N8.9 billion for the purchase of 800 buses. Details of how the monies were allocated were not provided to the lawmakers.
For 2013, SURE-P is to spend N273.52 billion.