The Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream Sector) has threatened to arrest the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman and Minister of State, in the ministry, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Abubakar Barkindo, if they fail to appear before the Committee next Tuesday to throw more light on the causes of the present fuel scarcity in Nigeria
The three top Oil executives were scheduled to appear before the Committee yesterday, but y shunned the invitation.
Angered by this development the by Chairman of the Committee, Senator Emmanuel Paulker, said the committee would invoke the necessary constitutional power vested in the National Assembly to compel them to appear before it latest Tuesday, next week, to account for the crisis in the downstream sector.
Thisdayonline.com reports that Paulker said that the failure by the top officials of government to show up ahead of today’s commencement of strike by labour over the fuel scarcity was an affront to the authority of the Upper House.
According to him, “You are all aware of this meeting and we assembled here at exactly 11 o’clock because of the importance of the meeting. This meeting was summoned because of the lingering fuel scarcity that has bedevilled our nation for almost one month now.
“It was also called in view of the fact that labour has threatened that by tomorrow (today) it will go on strike, that this, among other reasons that affect the downstream sector, has compelled them to go on strike tomorrow (today).”
Paulker stated that, it was in view if this that this committee thought that there was dire need for us to summon all stakeholders to this round table meeting so that some of these issues can be resolved and addressed so that Nigerians that have been suffering in the past few weeks will heave a sigh of relief. As representatives of the people, it has affected us most because day in day out, we receive calls from our different representatives complaining of this fuel scarcity.
He said that that it was sad that the minister of petroleum who swore to an oath of office to man that area in the Executive would not honour the invitation by parliament on how to resolve the fuel crisis.
According to him, if there is a problem and there is the need for people to put their heads together, the ministers should be available; but after 20 minutes of sitting here with representatives of the ministry, we decided to retreat to my office.
We are back here and none of the ministers is present. This is a serious problem affecting this country. We cannot take this type of attitude. The committee is the Senate and the Senate will not definitely allow such things to happen. If we are rebranding this country, every person has to be alive to his or her responsibility. I
Paulker said that a situation where somebody who had taken an oath of office could not come and explain to Nigerians a crisis in the sector he supervises, he should be summoned.
According to him, ìf you go to the filling stations, you will see the queues and if it can happen here in Abuja, then it can be better imagined what is happening in the suburbs.
So this Committee, representing the Senate, will leave no stone unturned to make itself available, with its legislative powers to compel the Minister to appear before it between now and Tuesday because we cannot stay here and discuss anything meaningful he said.