To summon oil marketers
THE Senate Ad hoc Committee investigating the management of the fuel subsidy scheme has stated that the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has some questions to answer on the way the scheme has been handled thus far. .
Chairman of the Joint Committee comprising Petroleum (Down Stream), Finance and Appropriation, Magnus Abbe, who disclosed this in an interview with reporters at the weekend in Abuja, said after the first phase of the investigation, which involved a public hearing, the panel discovered that there were still some serious issues not yet addressed by the agency.
Abbe also disclosed that the panel would summon oil marketers to explain their involvements in the scheme.
He assured that members of the panel would also work hard towards the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as part of the effort to reform the oil sector.
Abbe added that the panel would soon embark on an inspection tour of some oil facilities in different parts of the country with a view to verifying some claims made by stakeholders during the public hearing. .
The senator stated: “There are some loose ends arising from the public hearing that members want to tidy up before we can draw conclusions on those issues and as we were working on our documents. We saw some loose ends and we also have outstanding questions they had promised to provide answers to and we are not satisfied with the answers they brought. So, those are the things we are planning to tidy up. .
“We intend to visit some of the facilities that we think the joint committee would need to see before we submit our report to the Senate. The committee would probably be visiting Lagos to look at some of the facilities that you heard them talk about in the course of the investigation.” .
Abbe went on: “We’ve also decided that we would need to talk to some of the importers to hear their side of the story and put forward some of the concerns that have been expressed by not just members of the committee but also by the Nigerian public; to try and give them some opportunity to make their own case.
“We also have a few lingering issues that we want to clarify with the PPPRA before we can conclude. We had invited them on January 17, 2012, but because of the concurrent investigation in the House of Representatives, they couldn’t make that meeting with our joint committee but we are looking to fix another date where they can come and clarify those issues with the Senate.”
The chairman said the probe would be pushed to a logical conclusion despite the invitation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the oil sector.
Abe said the marketers would equally be invited to shed light on some issues.
His words: “Right now, we have challenges with time in the Senate but we are looking at next week because we first wanted to do some site inspection of some of the facilities for receiving these products and storing them so that we can make on-the-spot assessment of some of what we heard at the public hearing. After that, we would talk with the marketers before we decide on what exactly the report would say.”
He assured that with the recent developments in the oil sector, the Senate would expedite action on the PIB.
Abbe stated: “I know for a fact that there are a lot of interests – economic, political social – that are tied to the oil sector. In dealing with a subject like the PIB, which seeks to reshape the industry, re-create it on a commercial basis and take out a lot of the wastes that is presently associated with the industry.
“I don’t think you can achieve that without some level of turbulence. I think you would have some of those challenges but the important thing is that if those key actors in this, namely the Federal Government, the National Assembly, our own people, if we all put the interest of Nigeria first, finding a common ground and passing a law that would actually enable the petroleum industry to develop to the benefit of the Nigerian people would not be too difficult an assignment.”