The Senate has berated the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, over his alleged comment on the ongoing fuel crisis.
In a statement by the Senate spokesperson, Sabi Abdullahi, the upper chamber said a comment credited to Mr. Kyari that oil marketers are being owed due to the failure of the Senate to sign a loan request was untrue.
PREMIUM TIMES has no evidence Mr. Kyari made that statement. Efforts to get the president’s spokespersons to clarify if and when the statements were made by Mr. Kyari were not successful. Femi Adesina said he has no information on the subject while Garba Shehu did not return calls or reply a text message on it.
The Senate advised Mr. Kyari to desist from advancing ‘false claim’ and shifting blames in the mould of ‘blaming someone else.’
“The attention of the Senate has been drawn to a claim said to have been made by the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, during a meeting with stakeholders in the oil industry on the perennial fuel scarcity in the country to the effect that the payment of debt owed to oil marketers was being delayed because the National Assembly has not approved request presented to the legislature for loan meant for that purpose,” the statement reads.
“The Senate would want members of the public to know that no such request has been made to it specifically requesting for loan meant for payment to oil marketers.
“The Senate is aware that subsidy on petroleum had been cancelled by this administration; so we wonder which payment we are talking about now.
“Senators have been inundated with calls from oil marketers who were present at the meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President on the issue and thus, we call on Mallam Kyari to either prove his claim or retract it,” the statement added.
The Senate also made reference to a reported claim by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, that there were other requests for loans pending before the Senate.
Mrs. Adeosun had in October told members of the Senate joint committees on finance and appropriation that meeting the backlogs of the 2016 budget and inability to access foreign loans were major impediments to funding of capital projects in the 2017 budget.
The Senate a week later refuted Mrs. Adeosun’s claims noting that there were no loan requests from the executive that had not been treated.
The Senate was subtly vindicated as, after these claims and counter claims, President Muhammadu Buhari wrote the Senate to seek approval for external loan to the tune of $3billion and approval to issue a $2.5 billion Eurobond or Diaspora Bond in the international market.
“It should be noted that a similar claim was made by the Minister of Finance on the foreign loan at a time the Presidency had not forwarded the request. The letter requesting for the foreign loan was submitted long after she was confronted with the fact,” the statement noted.
“It is the opinion of the Senate that instead of resorting to false claims and shifting blames in the mould of ‘ Blame Someone Else’, both the executive and legislature should work together to solve this unnecessary fuel crisis which is making life more difficult for our people.
“That is why members of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) were mandated by the Senate President to suspend their recess and embark on oversight visits to key areas in the sector while it would ‘today’ (Thursday, January, 4th) hold an investigative public hearing with all stakeholders aimed at finding solution to the problem of fuel scarcity,” the statement added.