President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Abuja blamed past administrations for the current situation in which Nigeria is forced to spend billions of Naira annually on alleged subsidies for petroleum products.
Speaking at a meeting with the Chairman and members of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), President Buhari said the escalation of petroleum subsidy payments over recent years was due to deliberate neglect of the nation’s refineries, oil pipelines and other related infrastructure to allow the importation of petroleum products and corruption to thrive.
The President, who restated his huge disappointment with the way Nigeria’s oil industry has been run since he left office as Petroleum Minister and Military Head of State, said that he was convinced that if the development of the country’s domestic refining capacity and petroleum products distribution network had kept pace with national demand, there would not have been any need for the huge subsidies currently being paid to importers.
“They allowed the infrastructure to collapse so that their cronies can steal by bringing in refined products from overseas,” Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to the President on media and publicity quoted Mr. Buhari as saying.
The President urged the chairman and members of the RMAFC, who availed him of their view on the vexed issued of petroleum subsidy payments, to go “back to the drawing board” and come up with more humane proposals to rescue ordinary Nigerians from the “wicked manipulation” of the country’s oil industry by corrupt operators.
Mr. Buhari also warned that severe sanctions would be visited on any individual or organisation that violates the directive on the payment of all national revenue into the Federation Account.
The president said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Nigerian Ports Authority and other MDAs which previously relied on the laws establishing them to retain all or part of revenues collected by them, did so illegally and must now comply with the Nigerian Constitution by paying all revenues to the Federation Account.
Mr. Buhari, who also chided the RMAFC for approving excessive remunerations for some political office holders, urged the commission to seek a proper interpretation of its powers and address the public outcry against the unreasonably high payments.
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