By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
Senate yesterday included its committee on Gas, in the probe of the $1.05 billion raised by Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividends by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to augment the loss incurs by the corporation on N145 per litre current pump price of petrol, charting the committee to probe the entire usage of the NLNG dividends in the last two years.
The committee chairman, Bassey Akpan who raised a motion, said since last week Thursday, when the Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Mikanti Baru, told the Senate Ad- hoc committee probing alleged $3.5 billion set aside for subsidy payment, that only $1.05billion was taken from NLNG dividends, concerned Nigerians have called him on the authorisation and usage of the fund.
To this end, he asked the leave of the senate to probe the unauthorized diversion, which the senate President, Bukola Saraki granted.
Though the Senate leader who doubles as the Chairman of the Ad-hoc committee probing the alleged $3.5bn subsidy fund, Senator Ahmed Lawan (APC Yobe North), urged the senate not to mandate another committee for the same probe exercise but Senator Emmanuel Paulker (PDP Bayelsa Central), insisted that there is need for another committee to join in the probe.
Paulker in his argument said since the Committee Lawan is heading is probing alleged subsidy fund, the one on Gas should be allowed to focus on NLNG dividends as requested by Akpan.
Saraki in his ruling, said the two committees should carry out different investigations on the matter.
“The committee on gas should not only investigate the $1.05bn said to have taken from the NLNG dividends by NNPC to defray alleged extra costs being incurred on current pump price of fuel but the entire dividends.
“Nigerians need to know how the dividends meant for the three tiers of government have been managed within the last three years “, he said.
Saraki while speaking in Ilorin, Kwara state capital, said “We are shocked that the NNPC’s GMD was claiming that the illegal diversion of dividends from the NLNG which should be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation for the purpose of funding the fuel subsidy was done in compliance with the National Assembly directive that NNPC as the supplier of last resort, should ensure robust petrol supply.
“So, if the National Assembly called on NNPC to carry out its legitimate duty of ensuring adequate fuel supply to Nigerians, the GMD logically thinks the corporation by that call has the license to perpetrate illegality, spend money without approval and violate appropriation laws.
“This investigation will require the GMD to produce the approval given by the National Assembly and other necessary approving bodies
authorizing the NNPC to divert the dividend from the NLNG investment, which ought to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund belonging to the three tiers of government, for the payment of fuel subsidy.”