Speaker Yakubu Dogara Alerts President Muhammadu Buhari That Removal Of Subsidy On Petrol Will Be Resisted On Constitutional Grounds
Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara yesterday said it would be illegal for anyone, including President Muhammadu Buhari, to contemplate removal of subsidy on petrol. Making the disclosure, Dogara cited legal impediments which he said make it unconstitutional and illegal for anybody to move against subsidy on petrol.
Dogara stated these while receiving executive members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Ni
geria (IPMAN), who were on a courtesy call to his office, yesterday. According to him, a complete removal of subsidy cannot be done via policy statement as against the provisions of the Price Control Act of 1979.
Responding to a proposal by the Association that it can make products available at no cost to government through “swap or batter arrangements” said, “you talked about bringing this product at no cost to the government that implies to me the removal of subsidy.
“Now, I have had this discussion on so many platforms but as a legislator, I can tell you there is something about subsidy removal that we are not looking at. “There is a Price Control Act (PCA); If you look at the PCA, Section 4 talks about regulating or controlling the prices of products which includes petroleum products, makes it illegal for anybody to say he wants to remove subsidy without constituting a National Price Control Board which would now determine whether subsidy should go or not.
“In the absence of the Board, the other alternative is for the executive to forward a Bill to amend or repeal the aspect of the Act which affects or list petroleum products as part of its schedule.
“Otherwise, anything done with respect to subsidy removal will seen as illegal or ultra vires”, Dogara explained. On the role of IPMAN in ensuring availability of petroleum products in the country, Dogara chided the Association for not doing enough to ameliorate the suffering of the masses who depend on petroleum products for their livelihood.
“With over 25,000 members, you are a miniature Nigeria. That means you also face the leadership problem as we do. It’s through the active participation of associations like yours that we can help democracy.
“However, I don’t think it is fair to have the kind of resources that we have and continue to import fuel. With the caliber of people that I see here, it is inexcusable to say that we will continue to import fuel. Why can’t we refine the product here? “It is a national shame that we have an Association like yours and we can’t refine our crude and make fuel available.
“It is very embarrassing to see that people waste so much man hours trying to get fuel in the midst of so much crude resources. “But if you see your Association as only a tool for the advancement of your individual interest, then you will be repressing the society out of tune with the people.
And you can’t live in a society and try to stifle it for your own interest because if it crashes, it will also crash on you”, Dogara pointed out. Earlier, IPMAN President, Mr. Chinedu Okoronkwo, had, in his opening address informed the Speaker of his association’s readiness to establish two refineries that would process crude oil based on swap or batter arrangements.
He said the decision would make fuel readily available at no subsidy cost on government. “We are in talks with our partners to establish two refineries in Itobe, Kogi State and in Bayelsa”, he said adding that the refineries “will have the capacity to make fuel available to this country without any subsidy using swap arrangement to get crude and refine here locally.
“Our capacity to refine products here will reduce capital flight, reduce scarcity and save government lots of income and well go a long way in solving the problem of youth unemployment”, he said.
The Association also appealed to the Speaker for his support in helping to facilitate the procurement of a refining license so as to enable it commence work for which he said a land has been made available by the government of Kogi State.