The Nigeria Customs Service on Thursday questioned the National Petroleum Company Limited’s claim that the country consumes 60 million litres of petrol daily. The Customs comptroller-general, Hameed Ali, during a session with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Finance on Thursday, said if the company puts daily consumption of petrol at 60 million litres, why does it allow 98 million litres to be lifted daily.
“I remember that last year we spoke about this. Unfortunately, this year, we are talking about subsidy again. The over N11 trillion we are going to take as debt, more than half of it is going for subsidy. The issue is not about the smuggling of petroleum products. I have always argued this with NNPC,” Mr Ali said.
“If we are consuming 60 million litres of PMS per day, by their own computation, why would you allow the release of 98 million litres per day? If you know this is our consumption, why would you allow that release?” he asked.
“Scientifically, you cannot tell me that if I fill my tank today, or tomorrow, I will fill the same tank with the same quantity of fuel. If I am operating a fuel station today and I go to Minna depot, lift petrol and take it to Kaduna, I may get to Kaduna in the evening and offload that fuel. There is no way I would have sold off that petrol immediately to warrant another load. So, how did you get to 60 million litres per day?
“That computation, to me, is not believable, because scientifically you cannot tell me that if I fill my tank today, tomorrow I will fill my tank with the same quantity of fuel. And if I’m running a petrol station today, if I go to Minna depot and lift, and I’m taking to Kaduna, I may reach Kaduna in the evening and offload that product; there’s no way I could have sold that petrol immediately to warrant another load.”
Mr Ali also opposed claims that the smuggling of petroleum contributes to the huge amounts being paid for subsidy.
“So, how did you get to 60 million litres per day? That is my question. The issue of smuggling, if you release 98 million litres in actuality and 60 million litres are used, the balance should be 38 million litres. How many trucks will carry 38 million litres every day? Which road are they following and where are they carrying this thing to?”
The deputy chairman of the House committee, Saidu Abdullahi, said the payment of subsidy has constituted a drain on the economy.
“As a government, we have not done well. We owe it to the people of this country to do what is right for this country. We are talking about over N6 trillion going for subsidy payment that almost doesn’t exist,” he said.
“You talk about 38 million litres which amount to about 500 trucks leaving our shores on a daily basis. We have an investment in NIGCOMSAT. Has there been any time that our satellite captured images of trucks leaving our shore?
“I think it is very clear that what is required is the political will to put a halt to this.
“We talk about insecurity. This is the real course of it. The money that is supposed to go into the provision of social amenities is going into private pockets. I think there is a need to work together to put a halt to this,” he said.