Nov.4 (PREMIUM TIMES) — The chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force, Nuhu Ribadu, has explained why he has remained firm in spite of high-level efforts by some members of his committee and some elements in the Federal Government and the oil industry to sabotage the work of the panel he led.
There was open disagreement between members of the committee during the formal submission of their final report to President Goodluck Jonathan Friday with Steve Oronsaye, deputy Chairman of the panel, and Bon Otti, a member, openly discrediting the document submitted by Mr. Ribadu to the President.
They claimed that the process adopted in its compilation was flawed, saying all members were not allowed to see the final draft before its submission.
But in an update on his Facebook Page Sunday evening, Mr. Ribadu said he resisted all attempts to be compromised because he had taken a position to always be on the side of the Nigerian people.
He said as far as he is concerned a good name is better than monumental wealth.
“I have made my choice to stand with the Nigerian people, to place national interest before any other knowing that a good name is better than silver and gold,” the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission told his followers.
Mr. Ribadu had after the incidence at the presidential villa on Friday left an instructive comment on his Facebook page saying, “No matter the pressure, don’t compromise, stand for the truth and with people of integrity.”
On Friday, no sooner had Mr. Ribadu completed the presentation of the report to the President than Mr. Oronsaye rose to vehemently disagree with the presentation and to dissociate himself from the exercise.
“It is true I am the Vice or deputy Chair. But, I did not start with the Committee until much later, because I was busy with some other assignments. But when I joined, I made certain observations,” Mr. Oronsaye said. “Let me say this, your Excellency, this other report that was circulated for discussion was actually not accepted by members, and that was the reason the committee was to go back to review, modify and return.”
Mr. Ribadu, in his reaction, expressed disappointment at attempts to discredit the report, saying Mr. Oronsaye and Mr. Otti hardly participated in the deliberations of the committee, as they were busy lobbying to be given plum jobs at the NNPC.
“Mr President, I wasn’t expecting this development, so please do excuse me if I may say a few things,” he said. “This Task Force was set up in February. We started work effectively in March. Most of the members that you have seen here abandoned what they were doing and came here and we worked every single day. We gave everything to it.
“For about three months, Chief Oronsanye never participated one day in the deliberations of this committee. Not even a single day, never. The first time we saw Chief was when at the end of the work when we were talking about recoveries from companies that he jumped in. All the members are here, they can bear me witness. He never participated in this work.
“While others, who were appointed from outside the industry to look at it critically and give you an honest opinion, and ensure the independence of that committee, Chief Oronsanye got himself appointed into the Board of the NNPC.
“The other gentleman, Otti, who spoke became the director of Finance, NNPC, and they decided to, more or less, bully everybody and take over.
“And they wanted us to write for them. Committee members refused. By the time they were appointed (into NNPC) the most honourable thing they could have done could have been to resign from the committee. They refused to resign. Chief (Oronsanye) has not been in this country for a while. He flew in this morning to come and do this before Mr. President. And I think the President deserves more respect than you have done now.”