The Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, on Wednesday replied human rights lawyer, Femi Falana’s Freedom of Information request, seeking to understand how funds spent to keep the price of petrol at N145 jumped from N261 billion annually to N1.4 trillion.
In his response, Kachikwu denied the statement and described it as alarming.
“I, hereby, acknowledge receipt of your letter of April 17, 2018, requesting for information and data on under recovery. Your request to me is predicated on a statement purportedly credited to me to the effect that the Federal Government is spending N1.4 trillion monthly on payment for under-recovery on Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, importation.
“Let me for the umpteenth time state that I made no such statement and a previous rebuttal has clarified this. The information you quoted is both incorrect and alarmingly speculative.”
The Minister has been credited to have at a public function said: “It is time for Nigeria to harness alternative fuel sources like Liquefied Petroleum Gas LPG as under-recovery from the importation and sale of petrol at the. Government regulated price of ₦145 per liter has hit ₦1.4 trillion.”
In his reply to Falana, Kachikwu said it was the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), who would have the exact naira value spent on ‘under recovered funds,’ since it imports most of the petrol sold in Nigeria.
A month before Kachikwu’s debunked remarks, the Group Managing Director of NNPC Mikanti Baru had put the subsidy being spent to hold down the price of petrol at N774 million per day.
He said Nigeria’s daily consumption had risen from less than 35 million a day to over 60 million liters due to smuggling.
In the FOI order addressed to the petroleum minister, Falana queried the daily consumption figures, which had purportedly flown from 28 million in December 2017 to 60 million.
While stating that the average consumption in the five African countries Nigerian smugglers are touted to sell petrol to is an estimate of 250,000 liters a day, Falana said that does not account for the increase of 32 million liters per day.
He said the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and NNPC should give a true value of petrol usage, as they have spent millions on software that tracks petrol sales from the depots.
Since the Project Aquila Software has the capability to identify the owners and locations of all trucks loading petroleum products in Nigeria, why has your office and NNPC continued to blame smuggling for the drain of N4.6 billion daily on petroleum products? How many of the truck owners involved in the alleged smuggling have been arrested and arraigned in court since Aquila has the database of all Truck Owners in the country? Falana asked.
On the 27th of April, the Senate described NNPC's subsidy payments as illegal and ordered the Corporation to remit N216 billion into the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account.