The Senate yesterday alleged that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke “has something to hide” over her purported continued insistence not to honour invitations from its Ad-Hoc Committee on the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).
Chairman of the committee and Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi), told reporters yesterday that Mrs. Alison-Madueke has allegedly turned down three invitations to appear before the panel to explain alleged discrepancies in the N834.331 billion received from the N32 deducted in the 25 billion litres of petrol sold between January 2012 and September 2013.
The committee disclosed that from its investigations, only N300 billion has so far been remitted to SURE-P.
The SURE-P was created by the Federal Government as a vehicle for the reinvestment of the petroleum subsidy funds that was removed in January 2012. Specifically, it was established to ameliorate the immediate impact of the removal of subsidy on petrol.
Speaking yesterday, Senator Ningi frowned at a situation where a government appointee would routinely shun invitations from the Senate.
At the resumed sitting of the committee on Tuesday, Senator Ningi noted that the minister’s appearance scheduled for 1pm, was re-scheduled till 2:17 pm, hoping that she would honour the invitation but she did not and neither did she send a representative or apologies.
But the committee chairman said that no matter what it takes, the minister must appear before the committee to explain how the accrued funds have been spent.
“This is exactly more than one and half hours after the scheduled time for the meeting. I thought we have waited patiently” Senator Ningi said.
“I think that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources is the custodian of the SURE-P and we feel that they have things to hide and we strongly believe that documentation that we have received from the ministry embarrasses us as a committee and it should embarrass the ministry as well because simple statistics and arithmetic is found all through their presentation.
“There are various contradictions in the statistics provided and when we first sat here, we said this programme has not been run transparently enough, for Nigerians to believe that this is the programme that comes out of fewer democratic dividends”.
Ningi disclosed that the matter had earlier been reported to Senate President David Mark, who promised to take up the matter with President Goodluck Jonathan.
“I, as the Chairman of this committee, cannot outrightly say that this is what will happen; neither can the committee say this is what would happen. We invited the minister severally to appear; she didn’t appear and neither did she send a representative. We took the matter to the leadership of the Senate and the leadership, in fact, the President of the Senate assured us that he would take this matter to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, who in fact, hired the minister”, he said.