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Reps resolve to probe NNPC

Posted by By JAMES OJO, Abuja on 2008/04/23 | Views: 843 |

Reps resolve to probe NNPC

The House of Representatives in a unanimous decision on Tuesday adopted a motion to probe the activities and operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries between 1999 till date.

The House of Representatives in a unanimous decision on Tuesday adopted a motion to probe the activities and operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries between 1999 till date.

By this decision, it has become apparent that Nigerians would know how former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo presided over the nation’s oil wealth, as he was de-facto Minister of Petroleum for eight years.

This is coming at a time speaker Dimeji Bankole cautioned not to use the investigation to witch-hunt any person, as he asked members if they understood what they were about to do.
He had asked before the motion was taken: “Do you really have an idea of what we are about to start? My advice before we start is that there will be no witch-hunting of any individual. Please, there must be no witch-hunting of any group or individual.

“The credibility of the House is on the line. We must not trivialize a serious issue. We must let our debate be in line with what will improve the conditions of the people that we are representing.”
Bankole’s comment momentarily brought some stillness into the chamber before he signaled to the mover of the motion to proceed on the details and prayers of the motion.

Moving the motion, on behalf of 95 others, Hon Halims Ochukwu Agoda from Delta State expressed worry that the oil sector has remained the bedrock of the country’s economy, yet problems of accountability, transparency and monopolistic tendencies were allowed to eat deep into the very fabric upon which the sector was built. The motion was seconded by former Chief Whip, Hon Bethel Amadi from Imo State
Agoda noted that although the major source of revenue for the nation came from oil, its exploration, exploitation and trading in petroleum products have been shrouded in secrecy.
He said that daily allocation of crude to the NNPC for refining for the domestic market has since risen to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd), while the price of oil at the international market has tripled.

It was also noted that the NNPC, at the return of democractic rule in 1999, was allocated 300,000 bpd for domestic consumption (9,000,000 per month), which the members viewed could have fetched the corporation $2.9billion per month in terms of revenue.

On the controversial Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the nation’s four refineries, the movers of the motion contended that it was sad that the nation had to resort to importation of refined products to meet shortfalls in domestic consumption.

It was concluded that there was apparent neglect of the refineries by past governments in order to allow for the unwholesome and illegal practices in the functioning of the refineries.
Expressing further concern why NNPC must be probed, Agoda said that the consequences of the unwholesome financial and operational tendencies still impact negatively on the handling of petroleum products importation and distribution.

Again, it was argued that with the level of waste in the management of the nation’s oil, it was like the operations of NNPC had been hijacked by a cartel and syndicate, whose stock-in-trade was to service selfish interest and for the enthronement of all kinds of corrupt practices.
With the motion, Agoda said that the people of Nigeria and the government of President Umaru Yar’Adua would be on the threshold of history by taking open stock of the oil industry.

“The burden will be made lighter when we take a holistic stock of the petroleum sector,” he noted, while asking fundamental questions on how much barrels of oil the nation produces on daily basis, how much money is remitted to the nation’s purse and who keeps a proper accounts of proceeds from oil.
Agoda, who insisted that there was a statistical mystery that was assailing Nigerians from the oil sector, said that time had come to let the public know what was happening with the nation’s oil wealth and the system failure that has been the lot of NNPC.

Speaking in the same vein, Chuma Nzeribe from Anambra State stated that in investigating NNPC, members will look in the face of past leaders, who squandered oil money to fly in helicopters purchased with illegal proceeds from oil business to marriage ceremonies.
Hon Shehu Garba Matazu from Katsina State cautioned that the chamber of the House would not be able to contain the stench from opening the can of worms in the oil sector, adding that for the benefit of the country, the House will go ahead to look at what happened in the NNPC from 1999 to date.

Other members who spoke in support of the motion were Hon Patrick Obahiagbon, Mercy Alumona-Isei, Farouk Lawan, opposition leader Ali Ndume, Habeeb Fashinro and Igo Aguma, among others.
Based on the fact that 1999 constitution had empowered it to carry out investigation in the interest of public probity, accountability and good governance, the House resolved to conduct a public hearing on the operation and activities of NNPC and its subsidiaries.

The House also resolved that in probing NNPC, the corporation must publish, in three national newspapers, details of amount of barrel of crude oil lifted in Nigeria on daily basis from 1999 till date and how much was accrued to the nation under the same period and where it was lodged.
The probe will also determine the actual allocation of domestic crude oil to the NNPC, as well as the quantity of refined petroleum products derived thereof for domestic consumption and revenue, if any from May 1999 till date.

The ad-hoc committee will ascertain the identities, particulars, status, and the basis of the engagement of companies, enterprises and individuals by the NNPC for the importation and exportation of petroleum products, as well as those that have benefited from oil blocs allocation during the period under review.
For the nation’s four refineries, the committee will examine the amount that has been expended on their rehabilitation, their storage facilities, pipelines and their current status.

All budgetary allocations extended to PPRA for the purposes of importation of refined petroleum products, its usage and all other financial transactions arising from 1999 till date will also be looked into.
Also, the committee will look into other matters and materials concerning the operations of NNPC and its subsidiaries.

Chairman of the adhoc committee is Hon Iga Aguma. Other co-chairmen are, the chairman of Petroleum (Upstream), Hon Clever Ikisikpo, Petroleum Downstream, Hon Tam Brisbe, chairman Intergovernmental, Hon Leo Ogor.

Addressing the press after the session, Hon Aguma restated that the committee would not witch hunt anybody and that any valuable information from any quarters would be welcomed.
He gave assurance that the ad-hoc committee would not shy away from inviting any- body to give information that will enhance the workings of the committee.

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