Teddy Oscar, Abuja
Apparently disturbed by the Federal Government’s continued daily payment of over $4,800,000 for demurrage, the House of Representatives on Thursday directed its joint committee on petroleum resources, public accounts and navy to conduct an investigation into the alleged wasteful spending to foreign vessel operators running into million of dollars.
It is observed that more than $432,000,000 may have been paid by government in the last three months to vessel owners/operators of about 16 vessels which are yet to discharge their contents.
The joint committee, which was also charged to investigate and unravel how much has been paid to the owners of these vessels, is expected to report back to the House within two weeks.
This follows a resolution of the House from a motion moved by Hon. Yacoob Alebiosu entitled: an investigation into the wasteful spending of Federal Government in the payment of demurrage to foreign vessel operators and the impending scarcity of petroleum product in the country.
Alebiosu particularly noted that: “findings have revealed that for the past three months, the Federal Government has been paying over $4,800,000 daily to vessel owners/operators of about 16 vessels which are yet to discharge their contents.”
He expressed worry that, “if the Federal Government’s unnecessary payment of demurrages on oil vessels is not checked, revenue running into billions will continue to be lost via these payments as a result of the delay in the process of discharging the product on the vessels.”
He observed that crude oil found in Nigeria is often exported for refining outside the country and in turn returned as finished products in form of premium motor spirit (PMS), kerosene (DPK), diesel (AGO), aviation, adding that “where there is a delay in the discharge of these products from their various vessels, the companies operating these vessels charge extra costs as a result of demurrages payable.”
He further added that: “findings have revealed that naval officers have prevented fuel-laden vessels at the ports from discharging their contents despite the fact that some of these ships had been cleared to sail on our territorial waters under the claim of waiting for signals from Abuja.
“Nigerians might have to groan and cope with yet another round of scarcity of premium motor spirit as findings have revealed that the fuel currently being used in the country is the last batch from the reserves. This development is likely to cause untold hardship to both citizens and the government. While the citizens will have to cope with the scarcity of fuel which will adversely affect the economy, the Federal Government is losing huge revenue in this un-wholesome practice.
“More disturbing is the fact that, while it is the duty of the Nigerian Navy to protect the nation’s territorial waters, their actions at the ports on why some of the vessels were/are prevented from discharging their products despite having been cleared to sail on our territorial waters is quite worrisome.”