Senate stops proposed N5 charges on petroleum products

By Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigeria sells pump price of petrol at N145

The Nigerian Senate has directed its committee on works handling the National Road Funds Bill to step it down and engage in further consultations.

This is in view of media reports that the passage of the Bill will lead to increase in the pump price of petrol from N145 to N150 per liter.

Senate reached at this resolution during Thursday’s plenary, when it resumed consideration of the Bill that seeks to establish the National Roads Fund.

Before moving for the stepping down of the Bill, its sponsor, Senator Kabiru Gaya stated that his committee had no intention whatsoever of seeking further increase in the pump price of petrol.

“There was media report last week that we are increasing fuel by N5. That is not true. We intend to remove the N5 from the current N145 per litre. If this bill is passed, government will realise about N94 billion per annum into the National Road Funds for road maintenance across the country,” Senator Gaya said.

But many of the Senators were not convinced with his submission, insisting that the proposal will be injurious to many Nigerians economically.

They vehemently kicked against the bill being passed for third reading by the Senate.

In his contribution, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Marafa declared that the proposal would further impoverished Nigerians.

According to him, sourcing revenues for road maintenance should be limited to road sector itself and not extended to other areas.

Senator Marafa explained that the proposed N5 charges on petroleum products would lead to increase in the price of fuel and invariably worsened the hardship being faced by Nigerians, regardless of the explanations given by Senator Gaya.

Method of funding
“My comments are on the method of funding…The claims that the N5 charge has already been captured are not correct. Taking another N5 from refined products will add to the suffering of the people.

“This will bring untold hardship to the people of Nigeria. We have already addressed something like this in the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB). I oppose this recommendation very vehemently,” Senator Marafa stated.

The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio was among the majority who also supported the submission of Senator Marafa.

Senator Akpabio said he had great reservations on the proposals and urged the Senate to be very cautious in handling the bill.

“I want to align myself with the submissions of other speakers. I have reservations about the bill. I do not want the chamber to just pass a law and it will not be effective. I had an experience with the Police Funds when I was a governor. Throughout my time as governor, I did not get any fund,” Senator Akpabio said.

Presiding over the plenary, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said it was unfortunate that Nigerians misunderstood the content of the Bill. He emphasised that the Senate would not in any way inflict further hardship on them through an increase in the petrol pump price.

In addition to the consultations, the committee on works was also mandated by the Senate to make further adjustments to the Bill before bringing it back on the floor of the red chamber.

Mercy Chukwudiebere