The Senate on Tuesday began investigation into the alleged mismanagement of over $3.8 billion fuel subsidy fund by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.
The Senate’s decision was sequel to a point of order raised by Senator Biodun Olujinmi, the Minority Leader of the Senate.
Olujinmi told her colleagues that it was dangerous to allow just two people in the NNPC, the Group Managing Director and the Executive Director in charge of Finance, as the sole controllers of huge subsidy fund.
She recalled that the NNPC had been requested several timesto submit subsidy budget to the National Assembly for consideration and approval.
Olujimi said: “I need to bring this issue to the attention of the Senate.
“The NNPC is operating an illegal fund on subsidy.
“As a Senate, we are the true representatives of the people.
“We cannot sit back and allow this to continue to happen.
“I am bringing this to the attention of the Senate so that we can look at the issue.
“Let the various committees, especially the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), look into this issue.
“Let them investigate and tell us what the position on ground is.”
However, there was mild drama between Senator Kabir Marafa and Senator Ali Ndume over which committee should investigate the allegation.
The drama between the two northern Senators started when the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, in his ruling mandated the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, and Marafa, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Downstream, to summon those in the NNPC who are responsible and “come back to us in four days on a report that we can all debate”.
But Ndume, the former Leader of the Senate, raised objection on the resolution, alleging that the Senate Committee on Downstream, led by Marafa, might have been compromised.
Infuriated by the submission of Ndume, Marafa, who came through point of order, kicked against the allegation.
Citing other order 53, after the resolution, Marafa said: “I have no problem if we are even asked the committee of downstream to step aside totally or if it is the wish of the committee of selection that is responsible for appointing the various committees, that the committee of downstream be dissolved today.
“I have no problem with that.
“I equally have no offence with the submission of Senator Ali Ndume.
“But I have serious exception when he said that the committee compromised.
“Let it be on record that this Senate split the committee into two of public accounts to look into this issue of subsidy, while the downstream sector was given the responsibility of looking into the volumes on this same matter.
“For somebody to come out and say, with due respect, that I am managing subsidy programme, that is incorrect.
“Let all these committees, including the ones held by some people before now, be subjected to scrutiny.
“I have no problem with that.
“But for this Senate to now leave another ad hoc committee to look into the issue of subsidy, it’s like some people are looking for campaign money and I don’t think that’s the best way to get it.”
Saraki asked Marafa to apologise for using offensive words, which he did.
Ndume also apologised to his colleague but insisted he only retorted the words of another senator.
At the end of the debate, the lawmakers agreed to set up an ad-hoc committee to look into the matter.