Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, on Thursday said government decided to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to beam its searchlight on the operations of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) because the agency’s administration, processes and procedures were messy.
According to the Minister, prior to transferring the supervision responsibilities to the Ministry of Petroleum Resource over a year ago, the agency responsible for the monitoring and regulation of prices of petroleum products in the country was under the Presidency.
In what sounded like a veiled indictment of the Presidency for rot in the agency over the years, Mrs. Alison-Madueke said for the brief period the PPPRA had been under the Ministry, it was discovered that its management over the years was shoddy and worrisome.
“Let also state for the records, since I also heard issues of the mismanagement of the fuel subsidy being mentioned,” the minister said. “The PPPRA came under the management of the ministry of petroleum resources less than a year ago. Prior to that, it was under the Presidency.
“When it came under the ministry, we looked at it critically, and decided to put a new management in place. For about eight months, we looked at the performance indicators for products allocations and became rather concerned.
“On that basis, as well as a lot of other issues that were coming to government externally, a new executive secretary was put in place, with a mandate to go in and reform the place and tighten the control as well as look again at our regulations, and ensure that, going forward, the entire administration, processes and procedures were handled in a much tighter and more controlled manner. Since the beginning of November, we have already seen remarkable progress,” she said.
The minister said the decision to invite the EFCC, which raided the agency this week and carted away documents and files concerning the fuel subsidy management, was to enable it visit the agency and look at the books, having seen the interim report from the PPPRA Executive Secretary.
“So, I assume that problems in the sector, in terms of fuel subsidy, have been there for many years. It did not start in the last eight months,” she said.
Between August 2009 and now, the PPPRA has had three different executive secretaries, starting with Abiodun Ibikunle, a deputy director and head of the upstream division of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), who was also the Technical Assistant to both the Presidential Advisers on Petroleum and Energy as well as the Minister of Energy.
Mr. Ibikunle was succeeded in February 2010 by Goody Egbuji, who was a former general manager (projects) at the NNPC, while Reginald Stanley, a former executive director, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), was appointed last December.