The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Austen Oniwon, today lied on oath while appearing before the joint Senate Committee probing the management of funds meant for fuel subsidy.
Ms Alison-Madueke and Mr. Oniwon provided contradictory and inaccurate information while responding to questions put to them by members of the committee on some of the issues raised during the public hearing.
The NNPC GMD, answering a question at the hearing, broadcast live on African Independent Television, told the committee that the immediate past Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Goodie Egbuji, was not a staff of the NNPC, and was therefore ineligible to provide details of transactions and matters concerning the corporation’s petroleum products importation programme.
But the Chairman of the Committee, Magnus Abe, apparently suspicious of Mr Oniwon’s claim, sought to know whether Mr. Egbuji resigned his appointment with the NNPC before taking up the job at the PPPRA last February.
To the consternation of the committee and other members, Mr. Egbuji, said on oath that his appointment as bonafide staff of the NNPC was not only intact throughout the period he kept the PPPRA job, but that he had also returned to his duty post following his recent sack from the petroleum products pricing regulatory agency.
When the committee turned to Ms Alison-Maduekwe for explanation on Mr. Egbuji’s status, she claimed that she was yet to sign the letter reinstating the former PPPRA boss to the NNPC. But Mr. Egbuji contradicted the Minister, saying he had since returned to his post at the NNPC. Premium Times checks corroborated the former PPPRA’s testimony.
Mr. Egbuji, the third chief executive of the PPPRA, was, until his appointment last February a general manager (projects) at the NNPC, following the removal of his predecessor, Abiodun Ibikunle, also a former NNPC staff.
Although the PPPRA Establishment Act empowers the agency to regulate the supply and distribution of petroleum products for all operators in the downstream sector of the country’s petroleum industry, including the NNPC, most of its chief executives have been appointed from the NNPC, in contravention of the provisions of its mandate.
Prior to Mr. Egbuji’s appointment, the PPPRA was directly answerable to the presidency. But on assumption of office as minister, Ms Allison-Madueke’s pushed for the agency and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to be brought under her direct control.