The incessant fuel scarcity in the country has gotten to the stage where the senate can no longer keep silent and are being pushed to summon the President appear before the senate to explain the cause of the fuel scarcity and how to solve the problem since he is the Petroleum Minister. However, the move was frustrated by APC senators who said that the president cannot be summoned.
Nigerians have been thrown into a state of untold hardship by these recent developments coming up barely six months after Buhari’s election as president. Senator Barau who seriously lamented on the nation’s predicament said:
We are worried that the scarcity is creating an untold hardship to our citizens who have to pay higher prices for these products especially petrol. We are convinced that the current situation is not in tune with the desire of the progressively inclined government to bring succor to Nigerians in all spheres of their lives.”
Consequently, a motion tagged: “The current fuel scarcity all around the country and the need to urgently resolve the crisis” was sponsored by senator Jibrin Barau, APC, Kano North and 23 other senators, and the senators deliberated on it.
According to Linda Ikeji, this motion was raised by Eyinnaya Abaribe, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator representing Abia South in the senate yesterday. According to him, since the president is simultaneously the minister of petroleum, there is need for him to come and explain to the senate the reasons behind the lingering fuel shortage and hike in the country. He went on to emphasize the need to make the president answer all questions arising from this difficult condition in the country at the present, as well as those bothering the petroleum sector.
Abaribe, while contributing to the motion, said the unnecessary hardship occasioned by the scarcity could only be resolved if lawmakers were adequately briefed on the true state of affairs. Senator Abaribe‘s submission received wide support from other PDP senators, (who had been criticizing the President’s handling of current economic situation in the country), as they all hailed him.
However, this plan to summon Buhari to the senate was loudly countered by senators of the All Progressive Congress (APC). This they did yesterday by voting against the motion when it was thrown open for ‘ayes’ and ‘nays’ by the senate president, Bukola Saraki, stating that the president cannot be summoned even as minister of petroleum resources.
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Aliyu Sabi, the chairman on media and publicity, who spoke on behalf of the red chamber, pointed out that even though the president was overseeing the petroleum ministry as a substantive minister, it does not place him in the position to be easily commanded to appear before the senate just like any other minister.
To settle the arguments, the senate president put the matter up for voice vote and it was squarely defeated as the APC Senators, who were more in number, shouted an overwhelming “aye” against the PDP’s “nay”.
Meanwhile, as at the time of filing this report, the President and the state minister for petroleum resources, Ibe Kachikwu were both in Iran for the 3rd Gas Exporting Countries’ Forum (GECF). But they are now back to the country.
Senator Sabi, during a briefing after the plenary session, explained why President Buhari could not be summoned by the Senate, noting that as the Commander-in-Chief, it is wrong to invite him to appear before the Senate, despite the fact that he is the petroleum minister. According to him, Dr Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum resources, would be summoned instead, to brief the senate on plans put in place by the federal government to end the fuel scarcity.
Senator Gbenga Ashafa, APC, Lagos East, while also contributing, called for the approval of the supplementary budget which he noted, contained the amount proposed for payment of subsidy to the marketers. He pleaded that the issue be treated with uttermost urgency.