In response to the ongoing concerns over the rising petrol prices in Nigeria, the House of Representatives has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to take necessary steps to remove obstacles that hinder Nigerians from accessing the N250 billion gas expansion facility offered by the bank. The appeal was made during a meeting on Wednesday when CBN officials appeared before the ad hoc committee on petrol price hike, chaired by Rep. Benson Babajimi.
During the meeting, Rep. Babajimi emphasized that eliminating these bottlenecks would help alleviate the adverse effects of the removal of petrol subsidies on the citizens of Nigeria. He urged the CBN to exercise its oversight on commercial banks and employ its authority to facilitate a smoother process for applicants.
Mr. Clement Osawi, the Programmes Manager at the CBN, acknowledged the existence of the Oil and Gas Stabilization Fund as an intervention mechanism. However, he stated that most CBN interventions typically involve commercial banks acting as intermediaries to channel funds to qualified beneficiaries. The commercial banks are entrusted with the responsibility of conducting due diligence and feasibility studies on potential beneficiaries before disbursing funds.
Mr. Osawi explained that assessing the capacity and credibility of applicants can be challenging, particularly for new ventures or businesses without a proven track record. He highlighted that the risk of providing substantial sums to unreliable beneficiaries could lead to accusations of misuse of funds, and this cautious approach by commercial banks might be causing delays in fund disbursement.
In response to the committee’s concerns, Mr. Osawi committed to conveying the committee’s message to the management of the CBN and recommended a potential solution. He suggested that the CBN could publicly announce the existence of the gas expansion facility and encourage commercial banks to identify and forward qualified beneficiaries. This approach, he argued, might incentivize the commercial banks to be more proactive in identifying suitable applicants and expedite the process.
Regarding the current surge in petrol prices, Mr. Osawi attributed it to various factors, including fluctuations in exchange rates and ongoing developments in the global oil market.
The House of Representatives remains committed to finding viable solutions to ease the burden on Nigerians caused by the removal of petrol subsidies. By urging the CBN to address the challenges in accessing the N250 billion gas expansion facility, the lawmakers aim to support economic growth and development in the country’s energy sector.
As the matter is now in the hands of the CBN management, Nigerians hope that the bank will act promptly to streamline the process and ensure that the gas expansion facility reaches deserving beneficiaries efficiently. The focus remains on providing sustainable solutions to the energy needs of the nation while promoting equitable access to resources for economic progress.