A bill seeking to prescribe 10 years imprisonment for Ponzi schemers has passed the second reading in the House of Representatives just as the National Economic Council (NEC) says it is yet to take a decision on the issue of fuel subsidy removal as deliberations are still ongoing.
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State who made this public after the NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja said, ‘’there was an ad hoc committee set up by NEC and headed by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State that included members of the executive arm of government and worked on recommendations as to what we should do about the cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) locally.
“Because as you realise, as it has been told us, the cost of PMS in Nigeria today is about N162 for a litre whereas every other country surrounding Nigeria is selling the product at more than 100 per cent of the cost in Nigeria.
“The country, as at last year, spent in excess of …; we must have the exact figures — but we must have spent almost N2 trillion subsidising petroleum products. That is money that could have gone into building roads; money that could have gone into healthcare and education.
“So, for NEC, the argument has been put out; should we continue this regime of spending money that we do not have to subsidise the living standard of mostly those who have vehicles.’’
While saying that when NEC looked at some of the analysis last year, it realised that less than one-third of the states of the country consumed two-third of the subsidy, he pointed out that the issue of equity also comes up.
“All of these findings were presented to NEC and NEC have deliberations still ongoing. So, NEC has not come up with any decision yet and I think has also been made to the president’’, he said.
On his part, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State said Nigerians ought to know about the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) as the NNPC had become a limited liability company. According to him, the NNPC will run differently henceforth.
“So, if the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning provide for six months, you probably can understand part of the reason for the provision of six months before NNPC takes off. At that moment, that is when decision will be made. But I want to make the correction that it is not governors who are making the recommendations.
“It is actually a NEC committee that is looking at this and no decision has been made; probably a decision will be made; the PIA would have taken charge and it would not require any recommendation from anybody’’, Sule said.
In the meantime, the bill seeks to amend the Nigerian capital market, the investments and securities act 2007 by prohibiting Ponzi/Pyramid schemes as well as other illegal investment schemes and prescribes a jail term of not less than 10 years for promoters of such schemes.
The sponsor of the bill, Babangida Ibrahim, while speaking on the bill, said that “current trends in capital market regulation have made it imperative to make major improvements to the Act to align our market with international standards.”
In addition, the bill will empower the Security and Exchange Commission to shut down such prohibited investment schemes.
It would be recalled that the Ponzi scheme, popularly known as MMM wiped off investments of Nigerians in 2016, and Nigerians have continued to be victims of similar Ponzi schemes.