By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Christiana Ekpa
The senate yesterday rejected and came very hard on the chairman of the committee on Petroleum Downstream, Kabiru Marafa, over what they described as shoddy work and biased report he presented on the investigation his committee carried out on the lingering fuel scarcity and queues across country.
This is even as the lawmaker said the senators lacked adequate understanding of what the committee did, saying that his committee wanted to focus on ascertaining the actual volume of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) Nigerians consume on daily basis rather than delving into the subsidy claims by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Presenting the report of the committee which he said was an interim one, Marafa had made five recommendations to the senate which he was optimistic will resolve the issues of scarcity in the country.
The recommendations were that the federal government should consider granting special foreign exchange concession go oil marketers to enable them commence importation of fuel and sell at the approved N145 per liter.
Others are that the federal government should consider giving waiver on payment of charges to Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigeria Customs Service and other charges to bring down the landing cost of PMS.
The committee also recommended partial deregulation by the government to allow oil marketers import fuel and sell at their own price while NNPC mega stations sell at the approved N145 per liter, and that government should consider granting special tax holiday to oil marketers as a way of incentive and compensation to enable them import and sell at N145.
The next immediate measure was that the federal government should completely deregulate the PMS as in the case of automotive gas oil and kerosene.
He said in the long term measure, the government should consider unbundling of NNPC through the PIB, complete rehabilitation and upgrade of all the existing refineries to international standard for optimal production, or consider guided concession of the refineries to improve capacity and efficiency.
The committee recommended that through NPA, government should dredge water channels at ports to accommodate bigger cargoes, as well as government allowing private participation in the development of viable product distribution infrastructures.
However, while speaking on the report of the committee, the senators called on the senate to reject the work saying it was shoddily done, asking that the committee should be asked to go back and do a thorough job.
Senator Stella Odua, in her remarks said the report of the committee was unfair to Nigerians and biased, asking that they should be set aside to enable the senate have a comprehensive investigation into the reason behind the long queues and scarcity of the product.
Also, senator Usman Nafada, while contributing on the motion, said the only meaningful recommendation in the report was that the government should deregulate the downstream, but said this will affect the pump price, making Nigerians to suffer.
In his debate, senator Atai Idoko, said the committee did not say anything about subsidy in the entire report, stressing that it is empty and falls below the standard of what the senate should consider.
Similarly, Dino Melaye, who also said the report should be rejected, added that billion of naira are bring released by the minister of finance and paid as subsidy on fuel without National Assembly approval
Meanwhile, briefing journalists after the plenary, the committee chairman said most of the senators did not understand the import of the report, adding that what his committee presented was an interim report.