The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of corruption in the handing of the fuel subsidy regime under the All Progressive Congress (APC) government.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, recently announced its annual expenditure on fuel subsidy saying it had risen to over N1.4 trillion.
Mr Kachikwu described the expenditure as ‘under-recovery’ for supply of petroleum products across the country.
While the federal government has not formally said it is paying for fuel subsidy, it has consistently pushed the explanation of how public funds are spent to ‘subsidise’ fuel consumption to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the state owned outlet.
The NNPC for a while has been the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria. It has also said Nigerians consume about 60 million litres of petrol daily, figure disputed by state governors.
Mr Buhari, before his election in 2015, had consistently opposed the fuel subsidy regime under the PDP, calling it a channel of siphoning public funds
The PDP in a statement on Sunday by its Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, challenged President Buhari to submit himself for an independent inquest into his own handling of the N1.4 trillion oil subsidy regime.
It also asked him to clear himself of alleged complicity “in other exposed financial impropriety by cronies of his government, particularly in revenue collecting agencies”.
Such an inquest, according to the party, will expose ‘humongous corruption’ and also “show the world our African Union (AU) Anti-Corruption champion had not been totally spotless.”
Mr Buhari was named African Anti-Corruption Champion by the African Union earlier this year.
The PDP also invited Nigerians to note that a recent demand by governors to probe all subsidy deals since 2015 is a direct indictment on President Buhari as the Minister of Petroleum.
It said this also aligns with allegations that the funds are being warehoused to fund Mr Buhari’s 2019 re-election bid and “the opulent lifestyle in the Presidential Villa.”
Recently, state governors after a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo alleged an inflation by almost 50 per cent in the NNPC figures on petrol consumption, demanding a probe of oil subsidy payments from 2015 till date.
The governors also demanded that the NNPC must henceforth clearly differentiate its earnings in sales as against taxes before remitting funds to the Federation Account to “avoid unexplained shortfalls.”
“If President Buhari allowed the inquest, it will reveal how our president, who had queried the genuineness of the oil subsidy payments by the PDP administration and described the process as a fraud, had secretly engaged in underhand oil subsidy deals. Nigerians will also understand how the cost of fuel geometrically rose from the PDP subsidised cost of N87 to N145, representing a criminal N58 tax, per litre of fuel.
“PDP considers this as a fabrication to retire the billions being stolen as subsidy, even when statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics and the reality of the retarded purchasing power of citizens, under the prevailing economic recession, do not validate such claims. Nigerians therefore deserve to know who authorised the payments and the identity of the beneficiary companies, if any.
“The PDP is happy that state governors across board and the National Assembly are on the same page with our party in condemning the humongous fraud going on under President Buhari’s fuel subsidy.
“The PDP therefore demands that the inquest covers the alleged the N15 billion stolen from the NHIS, the N18 billion stolen from the PINE initiative, the alleged leaked memo of N9 trillion corrupt oil contracts at the NNPC, the reported diversion of N1.1trillion worth of crude last year and why indicted presidential cronies and fronts have not been prosecuted,” the opposition party added.
Apart from the governors and the PDP, the Senate has also frowned at the unbudgeted fuel subsidy expenditure. The lawmakers have told President Buhari to ensure a supplementary budget is prepared in 2018 for fuel subsidy.