By Ben Agande
Abuja— Some oil marketers, who were indicted for illegally collecting over N400 billion subsidy fund for fuel they did not import, have started refunding the money.
This is just as governors of the 36 states of the federation backed the Federal Government in its efforts to recover the subsidy claims from the marketers.
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, who disclosed the governors’ position at the end of the National Economic Council meeting, said the governors were excited that the Federal Government’s effort had started to yield result as some marketers had started to make refunds.
According to Obi, Nigerians need to show understanding by supporting the Federal Government’s efforts at recovering the funds.
He said: “The National Executive Council, NEC, commended the Federal Government on its present stand in the prosecution of those who were wrongly paid subsidy money and on the need for them to refund it fully. From the report we got today, some have started refunding.
“It is a serious case that people were paid for vessels that were not anywhere near the Nigerian waters. And I think when Federal Government does a thing that is courageous and right, it should be encouraged and that can, at least, give it the courage to do more.
“So, we support the Federal Government in the effort to clean up the entire value chain and process of petroleum industry; they have our full support.”
He said NEC also considered a presentation by the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, on the planned non-partisan Good Governance Publicity Tour being jointly organised by his ministry and the National Planning Commission.
He said the exercise was meant to monitor, evaluate and showcase Federal and states’ projects across the six geo-political zones and so was a worthwhile venture.
Governor Obi disclosed that Council also directed the Governors’ Forum to set up a committee that would meet with the Federal Ministry of Information and National Planning Commission to review the logistics for the tour and agree on the date of commencement.
Also, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, briefed NEC on the progress being made by the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, SURE-P, youth engagement and employment initiative, and endorsed the plan to launch the programme in the states to sensitise the people on the processes of job selection and payment to beneficiaries, beginning from September 6.
Obi added that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and the Minister for Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia’s brief on the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project, NEWMAP, interest-free $500 million facility was also reviewed by the NEC.
According to him, the ministers explained that the medium term soft loan with a 40-year duration and 10 years moratorium was meant to check gully erosion in the South-East and other parts of the country, which is increasingly threatening lives and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians.
Consequently, he said, NEC directed the Ministry of Finance and the Governors Forum to immediately hold further discussions on the pending $500 million loan.