Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said on Monday that fuel subsidy scheme designed for the benefit of poor Nigerians has become a cash cow for few people who continued to milk the country dry in trillions of naira.
Saraki said the fraudulent activities of the fuel subsidy cabal had continued unabated under a process so opaque and insulated from public scrutiny.
He noted that the Federal Government has failed to curb fraudulent practices associated with the fuel subsidy regime.
The Senate president said the Senate was working to unearth the subhead under which fuel subsidy had been funded without budgetary provision.
Saraki spoke while inaugurating an investigative hearing on subsidy payment by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The hearing followed a resolution which mandated the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) to probe subsidy payment by NNPC.
Saraki said: “For years, our country has been plagued with the issue of fuel subsidy and for too long, a scheme designed to reduce the burden on the poor has become the cash cow of a few who continue to milk the country dry in trillions under a process so opaque and insulated from public scrutiny called fuel subsidy.
“You would recall that it was only after my motion on the 5th of March 2012, with the support of my colleagues in the 7thSenate and after a thorough review and investigation of the scheme we unearthed the monumental fraud bigger than our capital budget for a year going on in the name of fuel subsidy. Five years down the line we are back on the same matter. This is not acceptable and we are determined to get to the bottom of it.
“The mere fact that we are here again today (Monday) to discuss this issue shows that those who benefit from this grand deception are not willing to let loose and government had not done what we need to do to nip this problem in the bud.
“This Senate had cut short the end of year recess of this committee to immediately intervene and investigate the root causes of the recent resurfacing of queues at pump stations nationwide.
“The findings of the committee have brought to light the fact that our downstream oil and gas industry needs critical reforms. It has exposed among other things that in spite of the stoppage of the fuel subsidy regime and the non-appropriation of funds for the scheme due to the fraud and maladministration going on in the scheme, that fuel subsidy payments continue to be paid from our commonwealth illegally and without appropriation by the National Assembly to a few quietly in order to dodge scrutiny and avoid exposure.
“But this 8th Senate is here to expose every corruption in the system irrespective of how highly placed those involved are and therefore the reason for this public hearing today.
“This unconstitutional and illegal practice must be addressed and we are not going to rest until it is fully addressed.”