President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed past administrations for the current situation in which Nigeria is forced to spend billions of naira annually on subsidy for petroleum products.
The president made the condemnation at a meeting with the Chairman and members of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said the escalation of petroleum subsidy over recent years was due to the 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 restated his disappointment with the way Nigeria’s oil industry had been run since he left office as Minister of Petroleum and Military Head of State.
He said 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 paid to importers.
“They allowed the infrastructure to collapse so that their cronies can steal by bringing in refined products from overseas”, Buhari said.
He urged the chairman and members of the RMAFC, 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.
According to him, severe sanctions will 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 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.
He said they must now comply with the Nigerian Constitution by paying all revenues to the Federation Account.
Buhari chided the RMAFC for approving excessive remunerations for some political office holders.
He urged the commission to seek proper interpretation of its powers and address the public outcry against the unreasonably high payments.
The chairman of the RMAFC, Mr Elias Mbam, said the commission had gone far in the process of downward review of remuneration packages of political office holders and those in the judiciary.
He dismissed the insinuation that members of the National Assembly were individually collecting over one million each month as their pay package.
“What we read on the pages of newspapers is not known to the commission because there is no member of the National Assembly, based on what we determined, that earns up to one million per month.
“We are reviewing the subsisting remuneration packages and it is going to reflect the socio-economic realities of today.
“We expect that before the end of next month, it will be ready. But it will go through a process, it is not something that you will just say yes or no”, he said.