The Chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, Nuhu Ribadu, Tuesday advised the federal government to beam its searchlight more on the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and other relevant officials of government if it truly wants to get to the root of the contentious issue of subsidy payments.
Mr. Ribadu, who spoke at an interactive session organised by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for its staff in Abuja said “most of the problems we are having now is the failure of regulators, including the subsidy issue that every Nigerian is talking about”.
Speaking further, Mr. Ribadu said if the PPPRA had performed credibly, it would have been difficult to steal from government.
“If I were to work on this subsidy, I would just arrest PPPRA officials, and through them I would bring out every single person who took one penny from government. I would get all of them because it is the gatekeeper that has failed so I would not bother myself with anybody else. No one can take money for product he did not supply except if PPPRA allows it,” he said.
Mr. Ribadu also said public servants benefit more than the oil marketers from the corruption circle in the subsidy regime.
“For every one person outside of government that benefits in this subsidy scam, public servants benefit three times,” he said.
The former presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria said the government appears to also understand what is going on at the agency and that bringing in new leadership has shown promising signs of redeeming the battered image of the PPPRA.
Nigeria’s inability to generate power
Mr. Ribadu also came down hard on successive governments in the country for their inability to generate sufficient electricity in the country despite the huge resources expended for the purpose.
“The biggest challenge facing the country today after insecurity is lack of adequate electricity and the inability of the government to provide power is what has led to most governments being a failure.
“Honestly, it is a failure if for decades we cannot give ourselves electricity. It is a massive shame and a big embarrassment that a country that at times earns as much as $50BN a year cannot simply get light for the people,” he said.
Mr. Ribadu advised the Chairman of NERC, Sam Amadi to lead by example.
“I do not expect you to be an IPP owner or distribution company after this job, because that is the mistake many made. You cannot be a regulator and businessman at the same time; once there is this conflict of interest, the door to failure has been opened,” he told the NERC chairman.
Insecurity and Police Reforms
Mr. Ribadu believes that the Nigerian police, as an institution, has been weakened over the years and needs reforms in order to confront the challenges of corruption and insecurity.
“We have destroyed and weakened an institution that is constitutionally assigned the responsibility to enforce law and order internally in this country,’’ he said.
He bemoaned the deployment of military personnel to perform internal security duties contrary to the provisions of the constitution.
The Chairman of NERC, Sam Amadi, who also spoke at the interactive session, said it was initiated to share experience with Nigerian leaders who had managed organisations in both the private and public sectors in the country with a view to lending the management and staff of NERC their wealth of experience.