Reps reject dirty fuel probe report, panel exonerates NNPC

Agency Report
Agency Report
FILE: Members of the House of Representatives at plenary

The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, dismissed the report of its Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) which investigated the importation of adulterated Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) into Nigeria, leading to disruption of the supply chain in the country.

In the report, the committee failed to hold anybody responsible for the development or recommend sanctions.

The committee recommended, “That the Honourable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, should initiate the adoption of 2017 PMS Standard (NIS 116:2017) as approved by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria for future importation of the product into the country;

“That the Minister of Petroleum Resources should expedite action for completion of the rehabilitation work of the three major refineries at Warri, Port Harcourt, and Kaduna to boost local refining and reduce over-dependence on imported PMS into Nigeria;

“That the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority shall procure tracking devices to monitor the movement of trucks from all deports to their destinations across the country. This will mitigate smuggling and will make the product available for domestic use.”

The committee also recommended that the Federal Government shall position the SON to implement its mandate to the latter by subjecting all imported white petroleum and other products to the offshore conformity assessment.

The SON is also to resume routine quality control for PMS and other products imported into the country at the various seaports, airports and land borders throughout Nigeria as enshrined in the SON enabling Act of 2015, saying, “This will finally address the reoccurrence of the importation of off-specification PMS and other substandard goods into Nigeria.”

The committee further recommended, “That the Federal Government is to note that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria mandate is also specifically enshrined under item 62 (d) Part I of the Second Schedule (Exclusive List) to the 1999 Constitution;

“That the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority shall double PMS National Reserve to at least 90 days and build depots across the six geopolitical zones to make products available for domestic use and avoid future PMS shortage/scarcity across the country;

“That the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Ltd shall maintain local supply and distribution of 90 million liters daily across the country until normalcy is restored.”

A member of the committee, Alex Egbonna, who presented the report on behalf of the Chairman, Abdullahi Gaya, said the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Melee Kyari, and the importers were invited and questioned by the panel.

He said, “We discovered that the crisis was actually not because of the suppliers or the companies but some major problems. We are here to present the report to the House.”

The Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, however, criticised the report as failing to address the main issues for which the House resolved to carry out the probe.

Okechukwu said, “My worry about Recommendation 1 is that the findings of the committee should speak to the recommendations. (The report) speaks about three refineries and the people who imported petroleum products.

“When you see what is being recommended, I know that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria is responsible, across the board, for the quality and standard of products. But we should also know that the DPR and certain protocols are in the refineries with regard to testing of the quality of products, whether they meet specifications. Whether SON is responsible for this is another matter.

“I have not seen in the entire report and recommendations what should happen to the companies that imported the fake products, because what we are talking about is adulterated products. And the refineries, the one (in Port Harcourt) that we have allocated $1.5bn, which has been awarded, there should be a status report on it.

“I think they should tell us the entire gamut of their investigation; what they actually did; because we want to solve the problem, we are not looking just to cross over. The reason and term of the motion are the adulterated products. The recommendations do not speak to that.”

Similarly, Ajibola Muraina said, “I am surprised that the terms of reference which this honourable House gave to them were very specific. Looking at the recommendations, one will see that the terms of reference have largely not been addressed at all. And these are specific terms that ought to be addressed specifically so that we can move to the future with the hope that we will not have a recurrence of this problem again.”

In his ruling, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the Committee of the Whole to consider the report, asked the committee to go back and comply with its terms of reference.

“I think the two submissions are very apt. They captured most of the views on what should be done. It is just to ask them to go back and do the work,” Wase said.

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