The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said the Senate will investigate the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), over the “whereabouts of the N800 billion collected for the maintenance of roads across the country.”
Lawan stated that the N800 billion, meant to be remitted to the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), cannot be swept under the carpet.
He disclosed this on Wednesday, in his remarks on a bill for an Act to Repeal the FERMA Act, 2002, and to Establish the Federal Roads Authority Bill, 2019.
He said: “I believe that we need to demand what happened to over N800 billion that PPPRA was alleged to have collected.
“I think that we will take that as a separate issue because we need to verify and confirm, even for the sake of allowing PPPRA to defend itself, because this is not something that we can sweep under the carpet. N800 billion can do a lot of things for our country.”
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Gershom Bassey, in his lead debate, stated that he wondered why PPPRA disregarded the provisions of the FERMA Act, which makes provision for a five percent deduction on petroleum products for road maintenance.
The lawmaker queried that road development and maintenance in Nigeria is uncoordinated and vulnerable to extreme climate events, adding that funding is poor and comes in an unpredictable manner, thereby making the cost of road maintenance in Nigeria to be one of the highest in the world.
According to Bassey, “If the bill is passed into law, it would amongst other things, promote the sustainable development and operation of the road sector; and facilitate the development of competitive markets and the promotion of enabling environment for private sector participation in financing, maintenance and improvement of roads in Nigeria.”
Also contributing to the debate, another lawmaker, Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi stated: “Why did the concessioning of Lagos-Ibadan fail? Why did it fail in this environment and it worked in South Africa, Morocco and Malaysia?
“Mr. President, the truth of the matter is that those countries are countries of rules. Why do rules fail in Nigeria?
“The FERMA Act says five percent of Petroleum pump price should be remitted to FERMA. That law has been ignored with impunity. Nothing happened, no consequence, and therefore, there’s no incentive for obeying laws in our country.
“This bill that we are talking about, the question is will it be obeyed? Because the preceding law is now been annulled due to lack of obedience to that law.
“The Pricing template of PPPRA excludes FERMA. This chamber asked us to investigate this matter; we prevailed on PPPRA to even speak to their inability to obey this law, we reached a brick wall.
“What’s going on, Mr. President? We need to ask this question because we cannot continue to pass laws that are not obeyed. We cannot continue to declare resolutions that are not respected, and as a parliament something needs to be done.”
The bill, was referred by Senate President Lawan to the Senate Committee on Works for further legislative action.