Leaders of the Action Congress of Nigeria have asked President Goodluck Jonathan to fire his petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to allow for proper investigation of the oil industry.
The party, which was beaten to a distant third position by the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Congress for Political Change (CPC) in the presidential elections last year, said at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday that Mrs Alison-Madueke would block investigations if allowed to remain in office.
Following protests over federal government’s cut in fuel subsidy; President Jonathan ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the management of Nigeria’s subsidy scheme.
The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources are target agencies for the investigation. Also, several reports have linked the petroleum minister with major fraud and corruption allegations in the petroleum ministry and the opposition leaders argue that it is improper to have Mrs Alison-Madueke superintend over her own investigation.
“This clearly fits to the anecdotal saying of asking the ‘thief to investigate the theft!’” they said. “It violates basic principles of investigative justice.”
The party leaders demanded the petroleum minister should be sacked and that the president appoint a “Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court with credible Nigerian’s across stakeholders as members to properly dig into all forms of infractions and abuse of due process in the petroleum ministry.”
Subsidy funded campaign
The party leaders are also latching on revelations thrown up, online, by the Occupy Nigeria movement to accuse the president of funding his presidential campaign with funds concealed as “subsidy” almost one year after the elections.
“The fraud called subsidy was simply a smoke screen for enriching cronies, which in an election year tripled to finance the presidential election …” the party said.
In 2011, N240 billion was budgeted for the subsidy scheme but by October, the government had spent N1.3 trillion with estimated expenditure reaching about N1.6 trillion in December 2011. Between February and March last year, the number of companies importing fuel also shot up from 11 to 120 in a process many experts say was less than transparent.
In October last year, the senate began a public investigation of the scam. Following the protest over fuel subsidy removal, both the House of Representatives and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission are also investigating its management.
But ACN party leaders believe that proceeds from the astronomical 2011 expenditure on fuel subsidy ended in financing President Jonathan’s electioneering.
“How exactly was the Jonathan Presidential campaign funded where daily media expenses was estimated at about N100m?” the party questioned. “Where did the lavish Neighbour to Neighbour campaign get its funds from? Is this not all funded by the racket called fuel subsidy?
“When the list of some of the beneficiaries of the so-called subsidy started coming out they were those who contributed heavily to the 2011 Presidential campaign, establishing the link between subsidy and Jonathan’s election funding.”