By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja
The lingering scarcity of petroleum products nationwide has pitched the executive arm of the government against the legislature, with both wings of government accusing the other of complicity in the impasse that has brought the economy and free movement of people around the country to almost a screeching stop since last November.
Although the independent petroleum markers, in a statement last December blamed the inability of the federal government to deal special foreign exchange rates to them to enable them import petroleum products and the debts owed them, among others, the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, on Monday pushed the blame to the National Assembly, insisting that the inability to pay the independent marketers was because the lawmakers failed to approve the request presented to the legislature for loan meant for the purpose.
Speaking during a meeting with stakeholders in the oil industry on the perennial fuel scarcity in the country, the Chief of Staff said the Presidency had thought the loan will enable the federal government to offset the monies owed the independent oil marketers and bring the horrible experience of Nigerians with purchase of petroleum products to a stop.
But in swift reaction yesterday, the office of the Senate President denied receiving any request for such loan, even though according to them, there is still fear if such solution was what was needed in the current circumstance.
“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,” statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, Mr. Sani Onogu said
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It said the Senate is aware that subsidy on petroleum had been cancelled by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration; “so we wonder which payment we are talking about now.” It revealed further that 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.
The Senate, therefore, called on Kyari to retract the statement credited to him or prove his allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
“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.
“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 hold an investigative public hearing with all stakeholders aimed at finding solution to the problem of fuel scarcity,” the Senate President said
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