Nigeria fuel report alleges $6.8bn graft

2012-04-25 10:27
Abuja - Nigerian lawmakers called on Tuesday for a probe into an alleged $6.8 billion lost since 2009 through a graft-ridden fuel subsidy programme, an issue that has gripped Africa's most populous nation.

The country's House of Representatives made the call after last week's release of a report by a parliamentary panel alleging massive corruption and mismanagement of the subsidy programme, designed to keep petrol prices low.

At the start of debate on the report, which covers 2009-2011, House Speaker Aminu Tambuwal said anti-corruption authorities should open without delay investigations into those alleged to have been involved in corruption.

"We are fighting against entrenched interests whose infectious greed have decimated our people," Tambuwal said during a debate broadcast live on television in Africa's largest oil producer.

"Our only interest here is to mitigate the suffering of Nigeria by showing how the subsidy regime has been hijacked for the benefit of a few," he added.

The House reviewed 35 of the controversial report's 61 recommendations and was to continue its debate on Wednesday. It endorsed all 35 recommendations, though some with amendments.

Despite the controversy generated by the report, the House's endorsement carries no force of law and allegations must be investigated by authorities.

Nigeria imports much of its fuel despite its oil wealth because of a lack of refining capacity, a situation also blamed on corruption and mismanagement.

In order to keep prices low at the pump, the government pays subsidies to fuel importers but the programme has also opened up huge opportunities for corruption.

Nigerians, most of whom live on less than $2 a day, view the subsidies as their only benefit from the nation's oil wealth.

President Goodluck Jonathan sought to end the subsidies without warning on January 1, causing petrol prices to instantly more than double, resulting in mass protests and a week-long general strike.

He was forced to compromise and partially reinstate the subsidies.

Read more on:    goodluck jonathan  |  nigeria  |  west africa

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