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Senate moves to avert fuel scarcity, urges payment of subsidy in two weeks

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Motion seeking appointment of Ibo as Service Chief suffers setback in Senate

The Senate has urged the federal government to pay outstanding fuel subsidy arrears to oil marketers within the next two weeks.

The resolution, one of four, is the latest move to avert a looming strike by the marketers who issued a seven-day ultimatum on Sunday, December 2.

Under the umbrella bodies comprising Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) and Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs), the marketers said failure to meet the deadline would force their members to disengage workers from depots.

In a motion on Thursday, chairman Senate Committee on Downstream, Kabiru Marafa, said there is an urgent need to avert looming crisis in fuel supply due to non-payment of accrued subsidy arrears to oil marketers.

“The Senate is aware that the federal government owed oil marketers subsidy arrears accruing from 2006 which led to the request by the president to the national assembly for approval of the establishment of a promissory note programme and bond issuance to settle inherited local debt and contractual obligations of which the subsidy arrears fall within.

“The Senate also notes that the debt have forced some marketers out of market while most of the marketers are currently being subjected to marinal injunctions.

“The Senate recalls that the National Assembly processed and passed the president’s request on Wednesday 18 and Tuesday 24 July 2018 respectively.

“The Senate observes that after the passage of the executive request by the national assembly, the Debt Management Office introduced very stringent measures for the issuance of the promissory note to include but not limited to; document reviewed by an international accounting firm, bonds to be issued in phases on the basis of discount with 10 years duration that is not interest bearing without a fixed date for the issuance and reverse option for issuance of the note.

“The Senate also observe that the procedure of document review by an international accounting form after it was authenticated by the presidential initiative for continuous audit approved by FEC and passed NASS is a wrong process,” he read, from a prepared motion.

Mr Marafa noted that subjecting the payment to another set of rules after the presidential and National Assembly consent amounts to a “deliberate attempt to sabotage the government’s effort.”

He said the stringent rules of the DMO forced marketers to object to the processes and resolved to giving ultimatum to pay and revert to agreement made at a meeting with the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, in June 2017.

He added that the debt profile has continued to increase, due to forex differentials and interest rates accrued. ‘As we are speaking today, the debt profile according to the marketer is nearing one trillion naira. Unless this matter is looked into seriously, the debt profile will keep rising,’ he said.

The lawmaker noted that the strike, if hatched, may lead to artificial fuel scarcity, which may span through the election period.

Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan, blamed the situation on previous government.

He alleged that those who are laying claim to the subsidy are allies of the previous government.

“The N429 billion approved by FEC and endorsed by the National Assembly, we know where the money is going to. We know those who helped…We know there are people who helped the previous government but we never cared. Our concern is the ordinary people.”

On his part, Yahaya Abdulahi, a senator, alleged that those within the present government are the ones sabotaging it.

“I thought the money would have been paid since July but for the issue to come here again, it means …whoever is behind the non-payment does not mean well for this country.”

His position was corroborated by Barnabas Gemade who posited that the issue has gone beyond National Assembly input.

“A matter that has passed the required procedure and the only remaining duty is that of implementation and all agencies responsible for that are under (the) executive and we come here to do what is not our responsibility, worrying on who has not implemented.

“Is it the DMO that is stopping the payment, or the Central Bank or Ministry of Finance? All those do not answer to the National Assembly. I do not see why we should come here to urge the executive to do its work.”

After a long deliberation which centred mostly on shifting blames to government agencies delaying the payment, the lawmakers made four resolutions.

They urged the oil marketers to, as a matter of public interest, rescind their decision on the ultimatum to allow the federal government more time to look into their demand, engage with the DMO to determine an appropriate financial instrument for the repayment of the debt.

The senators also urged the federal government to engage marketers and agree on outstanding liabilities to put an end to these subsidy claims and direct all concerned agencies to immediately pay the subsidy arrears as approved by Federal Executive Council and passed by the National Assembly.

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Atiku absent as presidential candidates sign peace accord in Abuja

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70 percent of my appointments will go to youth, women if elected president – Atiku

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, was absent at the signing of a peace pact for 2019 presidential candidates in Abuja.

It was not immediately clear why Mr Abubakar, the major challenger to President Muhammadu Buhari, did not turn up at the event.

Mr Abubakar was among those expected at the event.

Spokespersons for Mr Abubakar and the PDP separately told PREMIUM TIMES they were not aware of the event, which began at 3:00 p.m., and promised to make urgent findings and revert.

Mr Buhari arrived at the International Conference Centre to join other candidates in signing the peace agreement, which was drafted by the National Peace Committee.

Abdulsalam Abubakar, a former Nigerian military ruler, is the convener of the committee and the event.

A similar pact was signed by presidential candidates in 2015 and the committee was widely deemed crucial to the peaceful outcome of that contentious election.

Details shortly…

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Reps committee threatens to block aviation agencies’ 2019 budgets

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Reps discharge 16 committees of 25 referral bills

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has warned it may block the budgets of agencies under it over the failure of their heads to turn up for a budget defence meeting with the committee.

The committee Chairman, Nkiru Onyejeocha (Abia, APC), at a scheduled meeting of the committee with the agencies on 2018 budget performance said the committee would be left with no other option than to block the 2019 budgets of the agencies.

Ms Onyejeocha was reacting to the absence of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and heads of parastatals.

None of the heads of parastatals were present at the meeting but rather, sent in representatives.

Prior to the passage of the 2018 budget by the National Assembly, some agencies had alleged that some lawmakers demanded bribes as conditions for passing their budgets.

The officials said the unceasing demand for gratification was responsible for the reluctance of a number of heads of MDAs to honour invitations by Senate and House of Representatives committees to defend their budgets.

“It is either one director-general is not in the country or the other has travelled out,” Ms Onyejeocha said while lamenting their absence.

“Let it be on record that we are not happy with the ministry and all its agencies,” she continued.

“It is unfortunate because your minister is a product of this parliament. As a former member of the House of Reps and of the Senate, he should know the rules,” she told the representatives.

Ms Onyejeocha said the committee was not satisfied with the way the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, was running the ministry, adding that he cannot get anything good out of it.

“We won’t ask questions and get a reply, the budget implementation is zero to the best of our knowledge as far we are concerned. If they do not take time, they won’t have a 2019 budget; we have sent referrals and consultants to the ministry but they refuse to comply.”

The chairman said her committee recently contacted the ministry and its agencies that they would be coming for oversight but was either told the minister was not around or the head of agency had travelled.

“We are not here to play politics, we would just collect these documents, our hands are tied, the committee’s hand is tied, the House of Reps’ hands’ are tied. After this session, we may issues summons for them to appear before the House.”

She said the controversial issue of Air Nigeria and others were forwarded to the committee for investigation but was withdrawn and forwarded to the committee of the whole due to the absence of the minister and his officials.

“If Aviation is now domiciled abroad, let us know that we may request to the House and that we need visa to see your DGs. Today, we the members of the committee are saying no, we can’t take this committee for a ride, we shall collect the documents and let them speak to it.

“We give them not less than 48 hours to appear before the committee, it must happen, and if it does not, you people must appear on the floor of the House,” she ruled.

In his comments, Abiante Dgomie (PDP, Rivers), said the ministry and the various parastatals under it had become very evasive and were not accountable to Nigerians.

He said this was unfortunate, as it was happening under a regime that has a signpost of anti-corruption.

Mr Dgomie said the representatives of heads of agencies did not have sufficient information for the committee.

“If we begin to interrogate the documents, you will hear that I am not the DG or minister and so I can not talk on the matter. This is a waste of precious time and Nigerians are watching and observing a and they will run their own commentaries themselves.

“Those saddled with these responsibilities have failed Nigerians and let us put it on record. The strength of any nation is not as regards for individuals but for the strength of the institutions that run the affairs of the nation,” he said.

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I met my wife and an old man in a compromising position – Divorce-seeking husband

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I met my wife and an old man in a compromising position – Divorce-seeking husband

A Grade `C’ Customary Court, Bode Igbo, Ibadan, on Tuesday adjourned the divorce suit filed by Taiwo Philip, as the wife, Bukola, urged the court to plead with her husband on her behalf.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Philip, a plank seller, allegedly accused his wife of disobedience, keeping late nights, unfaithfulness and arrogance.

According to Philip, who resides at Omi-Adio, Bukola is also fond of not caring for the well-being of their six children; the oldest being 16-years-old and the youngest, one-year-eight-months-old.

“Two years after our marriage, my wife told me she wanted to further her education of NCE, of which I didn’t refuse.

“I established a Nursery and Primary School where she served as the headmistress but in spite of all these efforts, she still turned out to be an ingrate by behaving badly at home, ‘’ he said.

Philip said he once met his wife and an old man in a compromising manner in her shop when he went in search of their second child, who ran away from home.

According to him, as I demanded explanation from my wife, some goons, called ‘Gobe’, beat me up right there and then.

“I reported the incident at the police station for my wife to produce all those involved but the matter degenerated.

“With the matter still with the police, we were directed to approach the court for divorce, ‘’ he said.

The Respondent, Bukola, said she agreed to all her husband’s allegations, except that she never had an affair with the alleged old man.

Bukola said the old man in question was the husband to the woman who introduced her to Philip and facilitated their marriage.

“I usually approach this man for advice, because my husband will not allow me to visit my family since we wedded,’’ she said.

Bukola also defended herself by saying that her husband was the violent type at home and that he was fond of driving her as a slave.

“He places curse on me at will and he is fond of keeping late nights.

“My lord, he once sent me out of the house, forcing me to sleep in the shop.

“Sir, in spite of everything, if the court can beg him, I will still be willing to settle the issue,’’ she said.

After hearing the plea of the wife, the President of the court, Chief Muraina Agbomeji, adjourned the case until Dec. 17 for possible settlement out of court.

(NAN)

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