Show anger against corruption, impunity in oil industry, civic groups tell Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan

Groups ask for speedy passage of Petroleum Industry Bill

                                  

A coalition of 30 civil society groups on Tuesday asked President Goodluck Jonathan to demonstrate genuine anger against the open reign of corruption and impunity in the country by acting on about eight probe reports on massive pilfering of oil and gas revenues in the last four years.

Led by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, the coalition said the President must move beyond mere rhetoric and implement the recommendations of the various probe panels instituted to investigate allegations of open stealing of oil and gas money.

Apart from the four oil and gas audit reports by the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, NEITI for 1999-2004, 2005, 2006-2008 and 2009-2011, the coalition listed the KMPG report on process and forensic review of the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC as some of the reports that must be revisited.

Others include the Farouk Lawan-led House of Representative Ad-Hoc Committee Report on Fuel Subsidy regime; the Aig-Imoukhuede-led committees’ report on the review of fuel subsidy claims and payments, and the Kalu Idika Kalu-led committee report on the state of the country’s refineries.

The other reports were the Dotun Sulaiman-led committee report on Good Governance and Global Best Practices in the NNPC; the Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Task Force report, and the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter benchmarking report.

Restating its demand for the speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, towards achieving sustainable reforms in the oil and gas sector, the coalition said the findings of all the committees have already been validated by the New York-based Revenue Watch Institute, RWI.

The Institute in its 2013 Resource Governance Index that measured the quality of governance in oil, gas and mining sectors of 58 countries around the globe scored Nigeria low, to highlight a consistent failure of the country to dispense with the opaque nature of the industry and lack of institutionalised transparency and accountability in the management of its oil and gas resources.

The group noted the ongoing probe by the Ahmed Makarfi-led Senate Committee on Finance over the alleged non-remittance of about $49.8 billion (N8.17 trillion) oil revenue to the Federation Account by the NNPC.

It said it was concerned that the Ministry of Finance that was overseeing the inter-agency reconciliation process said $10.8 billion (N1.77 trillion) of the sum was yet to be reconciled, contrary to the CBN’s initial claim of $12 billion (N1.97 trillion) and later $20 billion (N3.28 trillion).

It said the NNPC on its part claimed there was nothing in its coffers to remit to the Federation Accounts, pointing out that the unreconciled figure was spent on kerosene subsidy and pipeline repairs.

“Considering the enormity of the issues at stake, the quantum of revenue involved and its implications for transparent and accountable use of the country’s resources, the Say No Campaign–Nigeria and its allied in the civil society struggle for a better country are deeply concerned about the uncertainties that this has created and the seemingly failure of any of the institutions named in the issue to responsibly address the concerns raised,” the group said.

It said it was in support of all the mechanisms and processes to ensure that the truth regarding these remittances were brought to open in the light of recurring leakages identified in the series of reports of government commissioned committees, panels and task forces on oil and gas revenue management in Nigeria.

The group asked the Senate Committee to thoroughly investigate the issues before it and establish the true state of affairs about the allegation and make practical recommendations, including the establishment of an automated system for revenue collection agencies of government.

The system, it said, would serve the best option to deal with general challenges of non-remittance by agencies of government to the Federation Account.

The group also asked government to ensure a follow-up of the Senate and the National Assembly on the implementation of recommendations of the Committee.


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