The National Assembly has denied any plans to increase the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) by N5, saying such an action has not been discussed on the floor of the Senate.
Senate Committee on Works Chairman Kabiru Gaya (APC-Kano) made the clarification in an interview with reporters in Abuja at the weekend. But despite the clarification, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) threw its weight behind Nigeria’s organised labour over the “planned increment”.
CNPP accused the National Assembly of taking more anti-people decisions than resolutions that could better the lives of the already impoverished masses. Gaya, however, said information about the “Road Fund Bill” proposed by his committee was misinterpreted, saying that those speculating it are creating negative perception in the hearts of the people against the Senate. The senator, who accused some persons of trying to make mountains out of mole hills, said the misinformation on the proposed bill was an attempt aimed at denting his image and that of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration by mischief-makers, who should rather educate the public on the true position of the bill. He said: “They said the Senate is increasing fuel price? That was wrong! They don’t even understand what we are talking about.
In the last seven years, I have been in the Senate. There was a N5 levy for which the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA) was supposed to be deducted, not to increase, even when pump price was sold at N87 per litre from the amount sold and remit to FERMA to maintain roads.“From our calculation, PPRA has not paid N167 billion to FERMA. I raised this issue then and wanted to continue this time again that the same N5, which was supposed to be paid before and they didn’t pay and now should also be deducted and removed from the N145 not to increase. “People are complaining because they don’t know the challenges before we in the Committee of Works. We have a lot of work to do because there are about 34 projects that were not included in the 2016 budget. But we make sure that they are now included in the 2017 budget. “They were in 2016 budget but were shortchanged and the Buhari administration approved these jobs, but they were not in the contracts in the budget. So, we said there is no way the executive council will approve a project and it’s been announced and it is not included in the budget. “The Committee of Works said these projects should be included and we commended the Senate President and the Speaker of the House, who ensured that those projects are included in the budget.”
But the CNPP, in a statement by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu yesterday, said: “We assure the Senate and the Federal Government that their proposed N5 per litre of fuel tax will be resisted.” The Alhaji Balarabe Musa-led umbrella body of all registered political parties and associations in Nigeria also warned the Presidency of the imminent consequences of adding to the pains of the ordinary people of Nigeria by raising the pump price of fuel under any guise. “Our findings have shown that the bill titled: ‘National Roads Fund (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017’, proposing that N5 to be paid per litre of fuel imported into the country is a ploy by the Federal Government to impose more hardship on Nigerians at a time the burden of recession in the country is becoming unbearable.“ We thought that the Federal Government should be thinking of reducing the already biting hardshipin the country after failing to fulfil the promised increment in minimum wage and non-payment of arrears of workers’ salaries and allowances in the past two years.“ It seems that the current government at the federal level and their National Assembly collaborators enjoy inflicting more and more pains on Nigerian masses. “We wonder why the Senate Committee on Works in its final report on the bill would make such proposal.“ Are they saying that the only way this government can raise funds is by increasing pump price of petroleum prices and punishing the masses?” the CNPP queried.
The Nigerian organised labour, students and others have vowed to resist any attempt by government to indirectly or otherwise introduce a hike in the pump price of fuel, given the country’s economic hardship.