BY DANIEL IDONOR
ABUJA – IN a swift move to avert a looming shutdown of the economy over the removal of fuel subsidy, President Goodluck Jonathan has set up a high-powered committee headed by a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore to meet with organised labour and all other stakeholders with a view to resolving issues that may arise from the removal of the subsidy on petrol.
President Jonathan has similarly appointed Dr. Christopher Kolade as the Chairman of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme Board which is to oversee and ensure the effective and timely implementation of projects to be funded with the savings accruing to the Federal Government from subsidy removal. Major-General Mamman Kontagora (rtd.) will serve as Deputy Chairman of the Board.
The Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme Board will also include two representatives of the National Assembly, two representatives of organised labour, one representative of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), one representative of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, one representative of Nigerian Women Groups, one representative of Nigerian youth, one representative of civil society organisations, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy/Minister of Finance, the Minister of National Planning, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, the Minister of State for Health, the Special Adviser to the President on Technical Matters, and six other reputable individuals from the six geo-political zones in the country, three of whom will be women.
A statement signed by Presidential Spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, said “the mandate of the Board shall be to oversee the Fund in the petroleum subsidy savings account, and the programme specifically to improve the quality of life of Nigerians in line with the Transformation agenda of Mr. President”.
According to the statement, “the Board will have the following responsibilities: Determine in liaison with the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the subsidy savings estimates for each preceding month and ensure that such funds are transferred to the Funds’ Special Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria; Approve the annual work plans and cash budgets of the various Project Implementation Units (PIUs) within the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and ensure orderly disbursement of funds by the PIUs in order to certify and execute projects; and Monitor and evaluate execution of the funded projects, including periodic Poverty and Social Impact Analyses (PSIA)”
Other functions of the new board include “Update the President regularly on the programme; Periodically brief the Executive Council of the Federation on the progress of the programme; Appoint consulting firms with international reputation to provide technical assistance to the Board in financial and project management; Appoint external auditors for the fund; Do such other things as are necessary or incidental to the objective of the Fund or as may be assigned by the Federal Government”.
The statement added that members of the committee to meet with organised labour, civil society groups and other stakeholders are: the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State.
The Committee which is expected to begin its work immediately also includes the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, the Special Adviser to the President on Inter Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi and Mrs. Ngozi Olajemi.
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