Minister, NNPC GMD shun budget defence meeting with Reps
There was a palpable legislative dejection on Monday as members of the House of Representatives were made to sit for more than an hour waiting for the Minister of Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kyari.
The lawmakers who are members of the joint House committee on Petroleum (Upstream, Downstream) and Gas Resources, and numbering more than 50 were seen falling over themselves to grab every available seat on the podium awaiting the President’s men who never turned up.
Our correspondent observed that while most of the legislators arrived at the 028 venue of the budget defence session involving the Ministry and the NNPC at exactly 2 pm, information regarding the event got to journalists at about 2.20 pm.
This was due to the fact that the joint committee did not extend invitation to the House Press Corps regarding the budget defence session as it is customary with committees of the House.
Getting into the room 028, venue of the meeting, it was observed that the portion meant for members was already packed full with lawmakers waiting patiently for the invitees to show up.
This was however at variance with normal legislative practice where the oversighted MDAs are usually sitted before the arrival of the oversighting authority (legislators).
Due to the overwhelming attendance by the members, the sitting position reserved for them became over populated, forcing many lawmakers to spill out of the allotted sitting spaces.
Having noticed that colleagues were no longer comfortable with the situation, the lead committee chairman, Hon. Musa Sarkin-Adda (APC, Sokoto), took the initiative to address his colleagues.
“My dear honourable colleagues, we have been here today for the budget defence of petroleum with the Minister who said he was summoned to the Villa by Mr. President.
“Sitted by my right is my elder brother and leader, Hon. Nicholas Mutu, chairman Gas, and to my immediate left is my younger brother but leader in the House, Hon. Abdullahi Mahmoud Gaya, chairman Upstream.
“We have been here for more than 30 minutes (immediately disputed by colleagues who said they had been sitted for more than an hour)…up till now, the Minister who confirmed to all 3 chairmen of his willingness to appear is not here.
“Although he called a while ago to say that he was summoned to the villa by Mr. President, and it is our believe he’s still with Mr. President.
“Given the circumstance, I want to suggest that we adjourn the meeting sine die pending when the Minister is ready to make appearance,” Sarkin-Adda said, just as lawmakers concurred by saying “carried,” in unison.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that some of the lawmakers had been seated in the hall as early as 2 pm and did not leave, ostensibly due to the strategic nature of the MDAs expected to defend their budgets.
This newspaper also gathered that the Petroleum Minister, Timipre Sylva, seldom honours invites from the House regarding budget defence or issues affecting agencies under his Ministry.