”The probe was for the period between 2009 and 2011…There wasn’t one minister for instance. Moreover, the Minister herself pushed for the probe in various Fora…She is not a saint as much as we humans, but clearly, she has been the best performing minister in 9ja’s history. Buhari was Minister for Petroleum when 2.8 billion naira (of the olden days) got missing….no one called for his head…”
The fuel subsidy report by the House of Representative Committee chaired by Hon Farouk Lawan is a welcome development in our nation’s growing democracy. (See full report here: THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES REPORT)
The house probe deserves all the plaudits we can give as a democracy to a non-tyrannical approach at solving our national toothaches. And this is just what we are witnessing from Nigerians from all walks of life.
However, to prevent biting more than we can chew as a euphoric citizenship, we must hear out all parties (including the indicted) involved in this welcome development. We should reject any attempt by our hasty thought process to exercise the bad belle lurking within the vestiges of our ”crucify-him” stance.
While listening to the House’s inconclusive proceedings as at yesterday, Honourable Farouk Lawan, who headed the probe, asserted thus: ”Infractions in the Petroleum Subsidy Reports were by the Chairman of PPPRA, NOT the Petroleum Minister”.
News reports monitored variously in Nigerian tabloids were indicative of hole-picking by some of the aggrieved and indicted companies/parastatals, while the Lawan panel had recommended that “the chairman of the Board of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), from 2009 to 2011 and the entire members of the board during the period are hereby reprimanded and their decision, which opened the floodgate for the bazaar is condemned in the strongest terms.”
But during the consideration of the report, members kicked against the recommendation and amended it to include that Senator Ali and other board members of the PPPRA should be investigated and prosecuted. Moreso, 17 oil marketers that failed to appear before the panel and neither made submissions but were indicted and asked to refund N42 billion through the intervention of relevant anti-corruption agencies had their way as they were given two weeks by the House to appear before the panel to defend themselves in the spirit of fair hearing and due process. It will be recalled that the affected oil marketers had threatened to institute legal action against the House for allegedly not giving them fair hearing by the committee that probed the subsidy regime.
The House’s decision on the affected companies was sequel to the input of Honourable Osai Osai, who made case for the oil marketers, saying that they should be given fair hearing, but was initially rejected by members who raised objection.
But the Deputy Speaker, Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, who chaired the committee of the whole, asked the House committee chairman on Rules and Business, Honourable Sam Tsokwa and a member of the panel, the chairman, House Committee on Justice, Honourable Ali Ahmed, to guide the House and they were of the opinion that the 17 companies should be re-invited in the spirit of fair hearing.
WHY WE MUST HEAR OUT THE OTHER SIDE
NUPENG, PENGASSAN absolve NNPC of fraud
The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum ad Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have absolved the management of the NNPC on the allegation of receiving the sum of N1.329 trillion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as alleged in the report of the fuel subsidy probe.
According to a press statement issued by the NNPC, NUPENG and PENGASSAN, the probe report was capable of inciting Nigerians against its members and the corporation,
The unions said they were compelled to issue the statement because of the adverse effect the fuel subsidy probe would have on the welfare of its members.
Defending the management of the NNPC on what it described as the weighty allegation, the unions called on the NLC, TUC and security agencies to investigate whether the said amount was ever paid, to whom and for what purposes.
The Nation Newspaper reported: N41.9b subsidy: 18 angry firms launch legal battle
Eighteen companies asked to refund over N41.9 billion, have hired a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome, to lead their legal battle against the House of Representatives and the House ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy.
Signs that the House members may have partaken of gratifications from the petroleum marketers in the past are encapsulated in their thoughts as the House may also bar its members from going to the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, United States on any marketer’s ticket.
The NNPC has picked holes in the House of Representatives Committee probe report on petroleum subsidy regime and denied it was paid N844.9 billion by the CBN to recover its subsidy claims.
Dr Levi Ajuonuma, the NNPC Group General Manager (Public Affairs) said this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
The report, which was submitted to the House on Wednesday accused the NNPC, PPPRA and some oil marketers of financial impropriety.
The NNPC was said to have been paid N844.9 billion by the CBN for subsidy claims, in addition to the direct deductions the NNPC made from crude sales, among others.
Ajuonuma denied the accusation.
“Such a claim is totally unfounded and absurd. We challenge both the CBN and Ad Hoc Committee to provide evidence that such payments as alleged were made to NNPC. They must show authorisation for the payments as well as breakdown of the amount, purpose for the payments, beneficiary accounts in which such payments were made and the utilisation of such payments.’’
The NNPC spokesman explained that rather than collecting such payments from CBN as alleged, the NNPC applied such subsidy approvals as credit due to the corporation toward the cost of its domestic crude allocation.
“The mechanics of subsidy recovery by NNPC is not fund based but by way of deduction form crude cost due. As a matter of fact, from the commencement of the subsidy regime, there was never a time when CBN paid any money to NNPC in respect of subsidy claim.’’
Ajuonuma lamented the fact that the Committee did not make use of the documents and information which the NNPC made available to it.
“For instance, NNPC presented to PPPRA approvals for 2011 totalling N981billion out of which only N844.9 billion has been credited to NNPC.
“But surprisingly, the Committee claimed that PPPRA approved only N504 billion and that the balance was excess payment to NNPC. What logic.’’
Ajuonuma also picked holes in the Committees query of NNPC’s deduction of subsidy payment as a first line charge.
“The basis for the deduction of both cash calls for joint venture operations and NNPC’S subsidy payments as a first line charge on the income of the Federal Government is statutory and founded on the Appropriation Act, which was passed by the National Assembly. Under the said Appropriation Act, certain budgetary items, including subsidy payments to the NNPC, are listed as first line charges on the income of the Federation.
“It is clear that the tune of the Committee’s report is not only damaging to the Corporation but to the entire nation. At this stage it is pertinent to ask the question, whose interest is this committee serving?.’’
PRESIDENTIAL ACTION AGREED
Before the disagreement by the joint unions of the concerned petroleum industry parastatals, PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday promised Nigerians that he would act on the House of Representatives panel report on the management of the fuel subsidy.
Jonathan, speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said “he would act in the best interest of Nigerians”.
“Nigerians can be rest assured that President Goodluck Jonathan will act in the best interest of Nigerians in this matter. After the report is properly laid before the Federal Government, President Jonathan will not condone any wrongdoing and he will act in the best interest of all Nigerians,” Abati said in a telephone interview with The PUNCH.
HUNDREDS OF N’DELTA YOUTHS PROTEST IN PORT HARCOURT
Hundreds of Niger Delta youths, on Tuesday, took to the streets in Port Harcourt, River State capital, in protest against perceived hostility against federal political appointees from their region, rejecting the recently released House of Representatives’ subsidy probe report as tribalistic.
The youth, under the aegis of the South-South Youth Leaders’ Forum (SSYLF), particularly condemned the report, noting it was targeted at the Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Addressing the rally of angry youths, the national mobilisation officer of SSYLF, Presley Iyalagha, described the entire work of the Farouk Lawan-led ad hoc committee on the probe as an intimidation and tribalistic.
He threatened that they would take the protest to Abuja, the federal capital.
“My dear brothers and sisters of Niger Delta, we can no longer fold our arms and watch with pains the repeated intimidation of Niger Delta appointees in political offices, as this has been the attitude of some ethnic nationalities against the good people of our region.
“The latest victim of this tribalistic attack is Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Minister for Petroleum.
Ever since she got in- to office it has been one attack or the other, all coming from other parts of the country, the intent being to discredit her and give an impression that our people cannot manage public offices.”
Pro-Diezani protesters storm NASS
As if to butress their point that a dog is being labeled a bad name in order to hang it, members of the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), on Tuesday, stormed the National Assembly over an alleged plan to remove the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke through the report of the subsidy probe.
The CSOs, led by the president of Change Nigeria Initiative, Mr Ebi Ken Alagba, however, claimed that an unidentified group had been distributing $200 and $500 notes to the unsuspecting members of the public to protest the removal of the minister.
According to him, “we are not against the probe report because, for the first time, the Federal Government encouraged reforms in the petroleum sector of the country, but if the report is designed to rubbish the minister, we will not be part of it.”
Perhaps, the generated hoopla prompted this statement by the Probe Chair: ”Infractions in the Petroleum Subsidy Reports were by the Chairman of PPPRA, NOT the Petroleum Minister”.
This should not be an opportunity for those who lost out in the last elections, those bombing primaries schools, viewing centres, beer parlours and churches to actualise their satanic mandates, but an opportunity for Nigerians to savour the non-despotic nature of democratic processes.
‘I PAID A BRIBE NAIJA’ ENDORSES DIEZANI ALLISON MADUEKE AS THE BEST PETROLEUM MINISTER EVER!
The Nigerian petroleum sector has never had such a verifiable result oriented administration as that witnessed under the present minister – Mrs. Diezani Allision Madueke. This is despite the historical challenges of corruption, bureaucracy, ineptness, etc that has plagued the industry since after the oil boom period of the mid 70’s to which no previous petroleum minister has achieved the monumental strides for the good of the industry and the Nigerian economy as Mrs. Diezani Allison Madueke has so far achieved positively impacting on immediate, short, mid, and long term outcomes.
Following the submission of the Lawan Farouk Committee Report, which on its own has become plagued with controversy because of reported omissions and all what not, there have been plans by sinister groups to abort the on-going positive transformation of the Petroleum industry under Mrs. Allison Madueke by working to see that these positive strides are halted by unstansiated witch-hunt.
Following the recent exposure of the oil subsidy cabal/mafia she fearlessly set up of a panel headed by the renowned anti-corruption crusader Mallam Nuhu Ribadu with membership peopled by persons of the calibre of the ex-NBA President and human rights crusader Olisa Agbakoba whose brief is to cleanse the underhand deals going on in the fuel importation process. This would surely not endear her to people who have benefited for long from such fraudulent practices and clearly demonstrates her unequivocal, fearless, and transparent commitment to cleansing the augean stables of the petroleum industry. If she is allowed to continue, the petroleum industry will never be the same again. She must see the process through.
Declaration of a 12-month Emergency Plan on Supply of Gas to Power Plants
Concerned by the recent shortfall and challenges in supply of gas to thermal power stations in the country which has subsequently led to significant drop in power generation and supply, under Mrs. Allison-Madueke, the Federal Government has initiated some far reaching measures to address the existing challenges including the declaration of a 12-month emergency plan on supply of gas to power plants across the country as well as the restructuring of the Gas Aggregation Company of Nigeria Limited (GACN) to meet up with increasing demand for gas to power plant. The consequence is that this helps to curb the significant misalignment between power projects and gas supply sources and facilitate the effective rolling out of the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP)
- Ensured the escalation of the historic use of made-in-Nigeria pipelines by Exxon Mobil recently at its Edop – Idoho Offshore field ·
- Secured the placement of over 100 kilometers of pipelines orders in Nigeria’s only pipe manufacturing company, SCC Abuja
- Ensured the increase of in-country fabrication tonnage from 1,000,000 in 2009 to 1,200,000 currently ·
- Advanced talks with Jiangsu Yulong of China to establish 250,000 tons per annum LSAW Pipe mill in Nigeria
- Initiated the establishment of deep water port in a major upcoming project · Developed the Nigerian Oil and Gas Employment and Training Strategy, which has resulted in the absorption of over 5000 engineers, geologists, welders and other skill sets into the industry and formed the basis of a national skill database
- Nigerian Content activities have already generated over 30,000 direct and indirect jobs and will surpass 300,000 within the next four years
- NCDMB has designed and launched the Nigerian Content Joint Qualification Standards, an electronic platform for the Board’s implementation of the NOGIC Act, especially its capacity Building & Monitoring functions. ·
- Established the Nigerian Content Development Fund, to be used for investment in Oil & Gas infrastructure, provide partial guarantee for service providers, manufacturers
- NCDMB developed Indigenous Marine Vessel and Offshore Assets Acquisition Strategy to promote utilization of marine vessels and offshore rigs/equipment with genuine Nigerian ownership in all O&G operations to increase the participation of Nigerians, empower communities and maximize Nigerian crew.
- Developed Original Equipment and Local Component Manufacturing Strategy to promote utilization of materials of Nigerian origin in oil and gas industry and ensure the establishment of equipment manufacturing plants that will employ thousands
- Enforcement of flare penalty of $3.50/1000scf to discourage flaring and encourage commercialization of the gas that is being flared. ·
- The launch of the “Offshore Safety Permit (OSP)” to account for the safety and competencies of personnel who embark on swamp, offshore and deep offshore duties in line with the expectation of the Nigerian Content Policy.
- The initiation of this program has brought about the establishment offshore training centre within the Nigeria
- Completion and implementation of the scheme of the National Production and Monitoring system (MPMS) aimed at ensuring independent real time production monitoring, accurate production accounting and to enhance efficiency in Terminal Operations in the country
The subsidy probe being undertaken by the House of Representatives may be another theater in the battle for 2015 as vested interests in the PDP who lost out during the last PDP primaries appear to be using their proxies in the house to checkmate their political opponents.
For instance, after the surprise resignation by former President Obasanjo from his prestigious and influential role as Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustess many politicians especially those who lost out during the PDP primaries are hell bent on ensuring that his favoured candidate does not secure the job. And Obasanjo favours Ahmadu Ali, the former PDP chairman who hails from Kogi State.
Now flash forward to today and the defying all odds, the House of Representatives on Tuesday, began the clause by clause consideration of the Subsidy Probe report which was laid on the floor of the House last Thursday but bowed to pressure, giving a lifeline of an additional two weeks to oil marketers who were asked to refund the sum of N42 billion to the national treasury to come up and defend their roles in the subsidy scheme, having failed to appear during the three week investigative hearing.
However, the hawks in the house are recommending the prosecution of Ahmadu Ali to knock him out of contention for the position of PDP BOT chairmanship. Those in the know are aware that there is a grand strategy to use the House probe to similarly knock out, weaken or severely discredit certain individuals who are considered as a stumbling block to the 2015 ambitions of some politicians.
This is just as the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has lambasted oil sector players for attempting to frustrate the investigation of the subsidy regime of the federal government, adding that the secrecy in the operations of the oil sector must be revealed since there is no provision in the law that makes room for a secret society.
Explaining the rationale behind the u-turn made by the House on the issue of the 17 oil marketers who had threatened to sue the House of Representatives for the recommendation that it had shady dealings in the subsidy scheme and should refund monies received to the federal government’s purse, the chairman of the ad-hoc investigative committee, Hon Farouk Lawan said it was all in the spirit of fair hearing.
The issue came up when on getting to clause 30 of the recommendations, which directed anti-graft agencies to recover monies paid to marketers who failed to appear before the committee, an amendment was proposed by Hon Ossai Ossai on the need to give the listed companies another invitation to come and defend the utilisation of money received from the PSF. He noted that the first invitation was generally conveyed on the pages of newspapers and that no direct invitation was sent to the companies to appear before the committee.
An activist and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) woman leader, Mrs. Abigail Wassa, has criticised that the House of Representatives Committee report on fuel subsidy which blamed former accountant general Ibrahim Dankwambo for questionable payments. She condemned the inability of the committee to dig deep on the investigation before releasing the report. Wassa said yesterday in Abuja that the transparent manner Dankwambo handled the nation’s treasury and his record track of achievements should commended not to be reproached.
OIL SUBSIDY SCAM: Probe Aganga, Mukhtar, Dankwambo, Okogu, Otunla, Reps order EFCC •Divided over call for Alison-Madueke’s removal •Culprits won’t go unpunished – FG •PDP backs probe
AT the concluded session of the consideration of the report of the Honourable Farouk Lawan-led House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee that probed the subsidy regime,
the House, on Wednesday, asked the anti-corruption agencies to investigate and prosecute former ministers of finance, Mr Mansur Mukhtar (2009–2010); Mr Olusegun Aganga (2010–June, 2011), who is now Minister of Trade and Investment.
Others are former Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) and current governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo; the present AGF, Mr Jonah Otunla and the Director-General of the Budget Office, Dr Bright Okogu, for an alleged extra-budgetary expenditures under the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) scheme.
The House, in a rowdy and dramatic session, was, however, sharply divided over the continued stay in office of the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison–Madueke.
A lawmaker, Honourable Robinson Uwuak, had through a point of order demanded for the resignation of Mrs Alison-Madueke under whose ministry the whole subsidy scam was perpetrated with reckless abandon, but was overruled by the Deputy Speaker, Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, who had earlier asked the lawmaker to approach the chair for consultation.
Despite the consultation, Honourable Uwuak still went ahead to express his reservation for the minister’s continued stay in office, the action which received resounding ovation from his colleagues.
At this point, the Deputy House Leader, Honourable Leo Ogor, stood up and asked the House to follow due process, as, according to him, the recommendations of the panel were still being considered.
His statement, however, caused uproar with members shouting,”no! no!! no!!! she must go!.”
Another drama also played out when the current governor of Gombe State, who had served as AGF, was left off the hook over the alleged payment of N999 million 128 times within 24 hours for further investigation by relevant anti-corruption agencies with the name removed and substituted with that of Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agencies (PPPRA).
This decision was contested by the Minority Leader, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, but was overruled by the Deputy Speaker.
Before the removal of the governor’s name from that particular allegation, Honouorable Lawan, after being recognised to guide the House on the issue, told his colleagues that after the presentation of the panel’s report, three letters were received from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), PPPRA and the Gombe State governor over the allegation and that it was actually the PPPRA that paid out the alleged sums.
The House also recommended that the accounting firms of Akintola Williams-Deloitte and Olusola Adekanola and partners should be prosecuted and their services should be discontinued with immediate effect for professional negligence in the whole subsidy regime saga.
The House committee chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Honourable Zakari Mohammed, who later briefed newsmen after the adoption of the report, said that the objective of the report was not to harass anybody but to state facts as they were, adding that the House was not playing anybody’s script.
He equally said that the report would be sent to President Goodluck Jonathan, the Senate, relevant anti-corruption agencies for further actions.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Joy Emodi, disclosed, on Wednesday in Abuja that all those found guilty by the House of Representatives probe of the management of the fuel subsidy in the country would not go unpunished.
She added that President Jonathan would not interfere in any way in the outcome of the panel.
Emodi told National Assembly correspondents that “for the fact that Mr President ab initio initiated the move to rid the petroleum industry of the rot because the bane of the society today is maladministration and corruption, especially petroleum industry, the fact that he appointed a person like Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to head another panel looking into the rot is a clear manifestation that Mr President is determined to rid the sector of corruption and he is not going to spare anybody. If not, why will he go and appoint Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former EFCC chairman who was his rival in the last election?”
“I am very sure that he is not going to spare anybody found wanting. And there are no moves, I am the National Assembly Adviser to the President, any slightest move here, of course, I will be the channel, I can tell you that no move is being made. The president has zero tolerance for corruption.
“The president’s sincere desire of enthroning probity was clearly manifested by his choice of men of integrity to be involved and he did not mind crossing the partisan barrier to get his opponent in the presidential election to lead the investigation.”
According to her, “the issues that led to the investigation predated President Jonathan’s administration. The president is poised to sanitise the oil sector and give it a new breath of life through enhanced probity, transparent governance and zero corruption.
“In fact, such sharp practices in the oil sector were part of the reasons President Jonathan moved against fuel subsidy in the first place. He directed the then Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga, to engage an internationally recognised audit company to investigate the rot in the sector and KPMG was retained for the purpose.
“This was overtaken by the more comprehensive industry wide investigation now headed by erstwhile chairman of the EFCC and presidential candidate of the ACN, Nuhu Ribadu. Is this not a clear manifestation of Jonathan’s determination and genuineness to fight corruption and reduce it to zero level?”
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has thrown its weight behind the probe of the management of the oil subsidy by the House of Representatives, stressing its resolve to be at the forefront of the fight against corruption in the country.
The support came at the weekly meeting of its National Working Committee (NWC), in Abuja, on Wednesday, where crucial national issues were reviewed.
According to a statement by its national publicity secretary, Chief Olisah Metu, the party resolved that in line with the determination of the Bamanga Tukur-led NWC, it welcomed the probe by the House of Representatives, adding that while the NWC awaited the consummation of all due processes in line with fair hearing, to ensure that only the guilty suffered, the PDP would continue to encourage the National Assembly to take necessary measures that would help stamp out corruption.
As a concerned Nigerian rightly observed, ”The probe was for the period between 2009 and 2011…There wasn’t one minister for instance. Moreover, the Minister herself pushed for the probe in various Fora…She is not a saint as much as we humans, but clearly, she has been the best performing minister in 9ja’s history. Buhari was Minister for Petroleum when 2.8 billion naira (of the olden days) got missing….no one called for his head…”
Culled from various sources:
2. Oil subsidy probe: Ahmadu Ali, others in trouble •As Reps adopt probe recommendation •Re-invite 17 oil marketers earlier indicted •Ask AGF to audit NNPC within 3 months •Okay 2 ministers for petroleum ministry