Temper flared yesterday in the Senate over the N700 million which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporations (NNPC) claims to spend daily in subsidising Kerosene, even though the money is not budgeted and approved by the National Assembly.
Debating a motion titled “Urgent Need to stop N700 million – A Day Illegal Kerosene Subsidy”, which was sponsored by Babajide Omowurare (APC, Osun East), the senators unanimously agreed that the payments of subsidy on Kerosene is illegal because it was not appropriated by the parliament.
In addition, some of the senators lamented that the controversial subsidy on Kerosene was not serving the interest of the poor masses of Nigeria as NNPC claims, even as they called for the abolishing of subsidy scheme since it does not serve the interest of Nigeria.
However, though the prayer of the motion was to stop the daily payment from the federation account, the sum of N700 million as Kerosene subsidy, the Senate failed to grant the prayer, instead, it directed its committee on Finance to continue with its investigations over the kerosene subsidy.
Speaking during debate on the motion, the sponsor, Babajide Omowurare said it has been established that the kerosene subsidy scheme runs outside the national budget.
He said it will have dangerous impacts on the fiscal stability of the Nigerian economic wellbeing and the future of Nigeria as a sovereign democratic entity.
Speaking during the debate, Ahmed Makarfi, who is the chairman of the Senate on Finance, which is probing the issue, recalled that there was a conflicting resolution in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
He said while the resolution in the House of Representatives directed NPC to pay subsidy on Kerosene, another resolution in the Senate directed the corporation to stop payment of subsidy on kerosene.
He however said, given that section 80(2,3) of the Constitution of Nigeria makes it clear that only what is appropriated by the National Assembly could be spent, the best option before NNPC is to spend only what is approved by the parliament, pending when the committee would conclude its probe on the issue.
Also speaking, Bukola Saraki (APC Kwara Central), said the Minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had earlier, at a different forum, admitted that there is no authority for kerosene subsidy.
He reiterated that no expenditure should be made outside the appropriation by the National Assembly, urging that the deductions must be stopped immediately, even as he called on the Senate to immediately address the constitutional issues around the kerosene subsidy.