The Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Senator Magnus Abe, has said the N700m being spent daily on kerosene subsidy is a waste.
He also said a full restructuring of the nation’s oil sector through the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill remained the best way to tackle alleged funds misappropriation by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Abe, who represents Rivers South-East Senatorial District, stated this during an interview with journalists in Abuja.
He expressed support for the removal of the subsidy on kerosene and urged that the funds should be channelled to other more pressing need.
He said, rather than allow the money to go into private pockets, it could be used for infrastructure development.
Abe said, “From the figures that are flying around now, I gather that we are spending close to N700m daily subsidising kerosene.
“We all know that this kerosene subsidy is not getting to anybody. Nobody buys kerosene for N50. This is simply another question of who is fooling who. So, as far as I am concerned there is no subsidy on kerosene and the money spent on it is a waste.
“I have not seen any poor man whose biggest problem is kerosene. They have problems of health care, transportation, education and food. Kerosene, to me, is one of the most insignificant problems that they have.”
Abe also spoke on the management of the NNPC’s resources, noting that the corporation’s funds were not subject to the same appropriation process that funds in other ministries were subjected to.
He said, “I think that substantially, Nigerians should realise that the structure of the NNPC and the way the NNPC conducts its business is a problem that needs to be tackled.
“And I think part of that realisation is what prompted the effort that is now being made to restructure the petroleum industry and take away political interference from the running of the industry.”
Abe noted that similar oil companies, national or state-owned across the globe, had become success stories.
He said the government-owned Saudi Arabian oil company, Brazilian oil company and Malaysian oil company, among others, had become successful in international businesses.
“Our own NNPC continues to wallow in one controversy or the other. It cannot function effectively; it is not cost effective; it is inefficient and it just constitutes a drain on the economy,” he said.