The contentious issue of fuel subsidy will just not go away. Now the Governors, like the National Assembly want the claims of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on subsidy payments since 2015 probed.
In fact, they want to take over subsidy payments, while suggesting that NNPC claims of N800 billion are bogus.
The Chairman of Governors’ Forum, Gov. Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara told journalists at the close of the National Economic Council meeting of Governors under the headship of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa, Abuja on Thursday:
“Our problem is the volume, the quantity of consumption which is not acceptable.
“Working with the governors so many decisions were taken but by next month, we are going to adopt that position either for the governors to take responsibility for the subsidy in their states based on the consumption or we look at other ways.
“For instance, if you say we paid N800 billion subsidy, you will ask who are we paying the subsidy to? And if you look at infrastructure development and capital programme of the Federal Government, it is about N1.1 trillion, almost 70 per cent of what you are spending on developing the economy.
“If there is no infrastructure development then you cannot talk about development of the economy. N800 billion is a huge amount that we must look at it, who is benefiting from it.
“So we are coming up with a strategy, we are going to meet in the month of May and June. By next meeting, we will definitely come up with a position of the government at both level of volume of what is being brought into the country and what the state and Federal Government collaborate to check…
“On the issue of cost recovery otherwise called subsidy, the issue of subsidy resurfaced again after the efforts of Mr. President. Before now the oil was $40 per barrel and now it is about $78 a barrel, so therefore they are depending largely on importation.
“Therefore, the cost is higher than what they are selling at the filling station and they need more money. When there was no cost recovery, the NNPC clearly gave us the number of 33 and 35 million liters per day as the consumption of Nigeria.
“But now that with the new regime of cost recovery, NNPC is claiming daily consumption of 60 and 65 million liters per day? Which we rejected and said no.
“So many of our international partners are saying that even if we are feeding Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Niger, we cannot consume more than 35 million liters per day. So we are wondering where the 60 million liters is coming from. We are trying to sort that one out, that one is not yet resolved.
“At the same time, NNPC is making payment on behalf of Nigeria on Cash-call contribution and also the NNPC is making payment of cash call arrears of Nigeria’s contribution. Our main concern is that in 2015, they said about $16.8 billion which is outstanding was not paid by the last administration and they negotiated it down to $5.1 billion according to them.
“What we said specifically is that they should bring to us how much they have paid from 2015 to date and what is outstanding. And we directed they stop payment until the claims are proven and then we can give further directives.”