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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

FG must probe diverted N1trn fuel subsidy funds –Pastor Bakare

Adeosun finance
Advocates deregulation of petroleum sector

PASTOR Tunde Bak­are of Latter Rain Ass­sembly, in Ogba, Lagos, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe N1 trillion spent as fuel subsidy between 2011 and 2012.

He also said Buhari’s anti-corruption war should be extended be­yond misappropriated defence funds, popu­larly referred to now as Dasukigate, to the 2011 fuel subsidy fraud.

In his message de­livered at the church, entitled: The courage to do the right thing, Bakare, who is also the serving overseer of the church, said 2012 subsi­dy claims were spurious and corruption-ridden and questioned payment of N999 million 128 times within 24 hours to some companies, to­taling N127.872 billion, by the office of the Ac­countant-General of the Federation in the name of subsidy.

The fiery preacher said available statistics revealed that the annual subsidy payment was N151.9 billion in 2006, N188 billion in 2007, N256.3 billion from Jan­uary to July 2008, N421.5 billion in 2009 and N673 billion in 2010.

“The subsidy payment in 2011 suddenly spiked to an earlier reported value of N1.3 trillion, which was later revised upward by the Minis­try of Finance to N2.19 trillion, amounting to a 225.4 percent increase in one year, which also happened to be an elec­tion year.

“When government realised it was no lon­ger able to sustain this colossal looting of our treasury, and that it had to replace the monies that had been expended or misappropriated out­side of budgetary alloca­tion, it quickly and sud­denly removed subsidies on petrol.

“The clear message was that the government wanted the so-called av­erage Nigerian to pay back what corrupt poli­ticians and their private collaborators had stolen. This was not acceptable to us (in 2012),” he said.

Bakare insisted that indicted firms and per­sons must be investi­gated and stolen funds recovered. He advised that the recovered funds should be injected, by way of a supplementary budget, into addressing the nation’s infrastruc­ture decay as well as so­cial welfare programme.

He also called on the Federal Government to prioritise efficient downstream sector man­agementand decried the prolonged crisis of the oil sector. “Is it not lazi­ness of the highest order that one of the largest producers of crude oil in the world exports crude and imports refined products at cut-throat costs?

“It is incomprehen­sible laziness that an oil producing country would decline to zero refining capacity! There is no gainsaying the fact that we have become the laughing stock of other oil producing countries in the world.”

Bakare canvassed a Downstream Sector Bill that should be sent to the National Assem­bly to pave the way for a completely deregu­lated regime. He noted that in a deregulated downstream sector, the Petroleum Product Pric­ing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) would operate as a price observatory agency alerting the pub­lic of reasonable price ranges.

“In the absence of a Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which is being delayed due to, among other factors, its exten­sive coverage, such a bill would replace the archa­ic regime provided by such laws as the Petro­leum Act 1969 in terms of downstream sector administration,” he ex­plained.

The cleric said the pro­posed Downstream Sec­tor Bill will recognise the need for small busi­nesses and households to access petrol for gen­erator usage until the power sector stabilises.