- Advocates deregulation of petroleum sector
By Sam Otti
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.