The Senate has launched a new investigation into a controversial $3.5 billion that was supposedly expended by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for the purpose of petrol importation.
Although it is not exactly clear when this money was spent, a petition brought before the Senate by Senator Abiodun Olujimi is now seeking to establish how exactly it was spent.
She is also particularly concerned by the fact that the money was neither included in the budget nor approved by the Senate approve it, blaming the President Buhari-led administration for jettisoning the initial arrangement for the subsidy fund whereby it is included in the national budget.
In the place of this initial arrangement, the Government set up what is known as the Subsidy Recovery Fund, which is managed by just two officials of the NNPC namely the Managing Director (Mr Maikanti Baru) and the Senior Finance Officer.
Senator Olujimi implied that this is a bad arrangement seeing as it gives room for corruption. Currently, there is some $3.5 billion oil subsidy fund in NNPC coffers which the Senator has described as a ‘slush fund’. She said the money is too big to be left under the management of just to people. She is, therefore, demanding for some accountability.
“I want to urge this Senate to cause the Downstream Committee to compel the NNPC to come before the committee and explain why this should be so. The new terminology that is now being used is ‘under-recovery’ rather than subsidy approval,” she said.
Meanwhile, the NNPC denies all alleged infractions in a statement issued on Wednesday by its spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu.
Instead, the NNPC said it received a $1.05 billion “National Fuel Support Fund which was set up “to ensure stability in the petroleum products supply.” The statement went further to say that the fund is jointly managed by the NNPC, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Ministry of Finance amongst others.
The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki instituted an ad hoc committee headed by Senator Ahmad Lawan to investigate the issue. The investigation will entail interrogation of some officials of the NNPC. The committee will report back to the Senate next week.