The Nigerian Senate

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday began probe into the $3.5 billion spent under the ‘Subsidy Recovery Fund’ of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

A point of order raised by the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, cited a ThisDay article on the $3.5 billion earmarked as subsidy recovery funds by the NNPC.

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She said; “I bring before this chamber this very important issue of national importance. It has to do with an article published in today’s ThisDay newspaper and it deals with the $3.5billion earmarked as subsidy recovery funds by the NNPC.

“Mr. President, since 1999, there has always been a budget for subsidy, however, this has been jettisoned by the current government, which leaves this administration in a very dire strait.

“What is happening now is that there is a fund named the ‘Subsidy Recovery Fund’ and it is being managed by only two individuals in the NNPC: the Managing Director and the Executive Director on Finance.

“This fund is too huge for two people to manage, and right now, the $3.5billion is too huge to be managed without appropriation without recourse to any known law of the land.

“You remember Mr. President that following the passage of the budget, you mentioned in your remarks, that there should be a budget for the subsidy and it should be brought before the National Assembly — that has not been done.

“What has happened is that by the report of ThisDay newspaper, it is almost certain that $3.5billion is a slush fund which is just being managed by just two individuals — and that is not correct.

“I want to urge the Senate to cause the Committee on Downstream, Chaired by Senator Marafa, to compel the NNPC to come before the Senate Committee and explain why this is so. Nigerians need to know what has happened to the funds that have been used so far — and the new terminology that is being used under subsidy recovery.”

Responding, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, reminded the Senate that he had called for the executive to submit its petroleum subsidy budget to the National Assembly when the 2018 budget was passed in May.

Saraki later directed the Senate Leader and the Chairman of the Downstream Committee, to look into the matter and report to the Senate by next week.