06 March 2014, Abuja – An investigative House of Representatives public hearing into the controversial kerosene subsidy turned rowdy as lawmakers – pitched along political party lines – traded words on the line of questioning directed at the director- general, Budget Office, Dr Bright Okogwu.
The Dakuku Peterside-led House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) is currently probing kerosene subsidy which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) claims it spent over 80 per cent of the $10.8billion (about N1.728trillion) unremitted oil revenue to finance.
Committee members from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenged the committee chairman, Peterside (Rivers/APC) for demanding that the DG Budget should clarify the legality of NNPC’s deduction of kerosene subsidy payments at source before remittance to the nation’s Consolidated Revenue Account (CRA).
Hons Sunday Karimi (Kogi/PDP) and Ralph Nnanna Igbokwe (Imo/PDP) accused Peterside of pursuing a “private enterprise” in his line of questioning.
“If your ruling is biased, we will challenge the ruling. This is not a private enterprise. Let the NNPC answer questions relating to its operation. You cannot hold the DG Budget responsible for the NNPC operation,” Igbokwe shouted at Peterside in protest.
“DG, do you have the competence and authority to speak for the NNPC or CBN?” Karimi asked the DG Budget.
The DG Budget then said he did not have such authority.
Hon Bala Yusuf (Kaduna/APC) countered: “Let us not downplay the significance of this gathering by arguing along party lines because this is an issue of serious national importance”.
The committee chairman, Hon Dakuku Peterside at this point appealed for calm. “From time to time, we have our misunderstandings. We are before the public; let us respect ourselves as gentlemen,” Peterside said.
Meanwhile, the DG, Budget Office told the House Committee that the Budget Office did not make any appropriation for kerosene subsidy since 2010.
In respect of NNPC diverting oil revenue to fund kerosene subsidy, the committee accused NNPC of flouting Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) on remittances to the Country’s Consolidated Revenue Account.