President lacks power to remove kerosene subsidy – Falana

Femi Falana10 February 2014, Lagos – Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has backed the decision of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Rilwan Lukman, to retain subsidy on kerosene.

In an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, the former President of the West African Bar Association also accused the Federal Government of insincerity in the management of the kerosene subsidy.

Wondering why the product was still not available at the subsidised rate, Falana advised the government to fight the market forces instead of withdrawing the subsidy to punish the masses.

Relying on a recent judgment by Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in the case filed by a Lagos lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, Falana argued that it was the exclusive preserve of the petroleum minister to fix prices of petroleum products and not that of the President.

He said, “Under the Price Control Act and the Petroleum Act, it is the minister of petroleum that has the power to fix the prices of petroleum commodities. It is illegal under the law for the minister not to fix the prices of petroleum products.

“By Section 6 of the Petroleum Act, it is not the business of the President; it is the exclusive prerogative duty of the minister. It is not a presidential directive that can do it. So, that directive, if it was ever given, is illegal because that is usurpation of the powers of the minister.

“It is illegal for the government to allow market forces to fix the prices of petroleum products.”

Falana queried the government’s will to fix the problems in the refineries so as to reduce subsidy claims.

He said, “It is a question of the will. The Dangote Group has gone to the bank to take a loan to build a refinery in Lagos. If a private man can do that, why should the government be wasting public funds by importing petroleum products?

“Why do you want to remove it (subsidy), so that they can punish the people? If the government is irresponsible to the extent that it cannot refine kerosene for the consumption of its people, what is the basis of removing it?

“If kerosene is subsidised, why are you selling it at over N120? That is the quarrel because it should not be more than N50 or thereabouts. It is the middlemen that should be fought not the ordinary people.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Sunday said the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, was quick to state that the late President Umaru Yar’Adua directed the suspension of kerosene subsidy since 2009, but failed to tell the Senate that he never wanted the directive to be publicised.

According to the corporation, Yar’Adua’s instruction not to publicise the directive made the former ministers of Finance, Mansur Muktar, and Petroleum Resources, Lukman Rilwan, as well as 10 other senior government officials to step down its implementation.


– The Punch

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