Nigerians are used to a lot of things. They are used to consistent black outs, bad roads, non-existent infrastructure, and poverty. They are even used to government committees and the different reports they come up with. Earlier this year on February 28 when the minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Allison Madueke appointed Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as chairman of a 17 member special task force tasked with the responsibility of bringing sanity and transparency to the petroleum industry, not a few people wondered if this was not just another attempt by the government to waste more resources on a fruitless effort.
We had been witnesses to several reports on nearly every issue facing the country and knew how hopeless it was to trust that the government would implement the findings of any report compiled by the new task force. For some, it was nothing short of a paradox that the petroleum minister who had been in the center of several allegations of corruption would set up a task force to sanitize the petroleum industry. It just did not seem right. There were others who were surprised by the willingness of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to head the task force on petroleum revenue. They thought that the former anti-corruption czar was compromising his integrity by accepting the appointment. The debate soon died and Nigerians moved on with their lives until a few days ago when members of the task force entered the news again.
There was mild drama when the chairman of the task force, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and his deputy, Mr. Steve Orosanye, a former head of civil service, openly disagreed before the president over the report compiled by the petroleum revenue task force. Orosanye’s assertion that the process that gave birth to the report was flawed and not process driven was seconded by Mr. Bernard Otti. However, the former anti corruption czar did not stand alone as he had two members of the task force, Sumalia Zubair and Ignatius Adegunle disagreeing with Orosanye and Otti’s position.
One can only wonder why Orosanye chose that particular time to make his grievances known to Ribadu. For people like us who like to read between the lines (you can call us conspiracy theorists if you like), we will wonder if perhaps, the task force was just one of the government’s many tricks. We will even call Orosanye a mole and say he was planted by the government to discredit the report. We will wonder just how sincere the president is in the fight against corruption and then say it is all a game. A game of committee and reports.
We will not even bother to note the following findings of this new report –
a) That 67 licenses were awarded between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2011; with an outstanding balance of $566 million unpaid in signature bonuses. For the 7 discretionary allocations reviewed, the Task Force found $183million outstanding and due to the nation’s treasury.
b) The Task Force found that $3.027billion was outstanding from the operators for crude oil royalties as at 31 December 2011 per the DPR’ss records. Of this amount, the DPR had stipulated that ADDAX is liable to pay $1.5billion royalties under the 2003 fiscal regime and there is currently a dispute between Addax and NNPC on the one hand, and the DPR on the other hand. In the course of the review, the Task Force also encountered differences in records of payments made to the CBN vis-a-vis DPR records, and lack of independent gas production and sales data.
c) The lack of transparency in Nigerian crude sales encourages fraudulent activities. Allegations have been made of the existence and circulation of forged documentation on crude allocation in the local and international markets, increasing Nigeria’s perception as a high-risk market and discouraging bonafide purchasers.
d) NNPC holds 55-60 percent equity shares in six joint ventures. In 2011, these licenses produced 1.5 million barrels per day, or 61 percent of Nigeria’s total oil production
e) NNPC sells domestic crude to itself at prices apparently below market. This creates a margin on crude sales to the refineries that should accrue to FGN and the Federation
In spite of these and many other incriminating facts, we will not bother to ask ‘what next?’ because we suspect that this report will go the way of the others. It will be swept under the fine plush rugs of the spacious Aso Rock Villa rooms even though we have lost over $100 billion dollars over ten years to corrupt practices. God forbid that the minister of petroleum and all others before her are asked questions.
We will go back to wondering about Orosanye’s role in scuttling the payment of the $1.5 dollars owed by Adax petroleum to the Federal Government and if perhaps he was just planted to discredit the report and rubbish the work of the task force. We will only wonder, after all this is just a game the government plays with us every now and then.
A Game Of Committee And Reports
Was Published On Omojuwa.com On November 5, 2012