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Bankole’s comment on oil earnings reckless – David-West

Posted by By YINKA FABOWALE on 2008/05/14 | Views: 969 |

Bankole’s comment on oil earnings reckless – David-West

Ex-Minister of Petroleum, Professor Tam David West, has taken the Speaker, House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, to task over his statement that Nigeria has no record of its oil production and sales for the past 40 years.

Ex-Minister of Petroleum, Professor Tam David West, has taken the Speaker, House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, to task over his statement that Nigeria has no record of its oil production and sales for the past 40 years.

The Speaker made the declaration during an interactive session with the Lagos business community penultimate week.
David West, in an interview with Daily Sun, described the statement as “reckless, irresponsible…and scandalously sweeping.”

The university teacher, who served as oil minister during the Muhammadu Buhari regime (1984-85), observed that the implication of this was that Nigeria’s past leaders had been running the national economy by the rule of the thumb, a suggestion he said was false.

David-West accused Bankole of playing to the gallery with an eye on sensationalism, as, according to him, the speaker’s assertion could easily be refuted with facts and figures.
Apart from the facts that the nation’s production quota and official selling price of crude were well known, he wondered “how come the states and Federal Government gather every month in Abuja to share from the Federation Account,” if there were no book-keeping on production and sale of oil which accounted for 95 per cent of the nation’s foreign receipts.

The former minister reckoned that what the Speaker should have said was that the figures presented by the three sources-Central Bank, the Finance Ministry and Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR) conflicted and needed reconciling.
He was particularly piqued by the apparent generalization of indictment of past regimes for apparent fraud and corruption, singling the Buhari regime out as one with an outstanding record of probity and accountability.

He spoke elaborately on this and other related issues in this interview at his Ibadan home.
How do you react to Speaker Bankole’s statement that there are no records of how much crude Nigeria produces and sells in the past 40 years?
With due respect to his exalted office, that statement is both reckless and irresponsible. It’s scandalously sweeping and I will controvert it with facts and figures. But first, the implication of what he said is that since 1968, that is from Gowon to Murtala, to Obasanjo (during his first time around, to Shagari, to Buhari, to Babangida, Abacha, Abdusalami Abubakar and Obasanjo (second time around), nine heads of state did not make oil movements a priority, despite the sensitive and security nature of the commodity, which is the live-wire of the national economy.

So, nine heads of state were irresponsible and careless that they didn’t know that oil is the heirloom of the economy. This is a big indictment and it is not true.
Obasanjo’s second time round was oil minister for eight years and he was elected president on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to which Bankole belongs and on which platform Bankole was elected into the House of Representatives. So, if PDP is irresponsible, they should pack up and go, because they are a disgrace to Nigerians.

Bankole goofed
Bankole overstretched himself in verbal recklessness and irresponsibility. Oil prices are controlled by OPEC. So, we definitely know the quota allotted to the country by the oil cartel. And for his information, Nigeria was the only country that was transparently clean in terms of compliance to OPEC’s ‘dos and don’ts’. We don’t over produce or sell at discount and we don’t sell at spot market at Rotterdam . We are so clean that we send copies of the oil contracts we signed to OPEC headquarters.

During Buhari’s regime, when the IMF and some world powers blocked a loan we were trying to secure from IMF, God gave me this pre-shipment strategy whereby I signed a contract with you to lift crude until the amount is amortized. Through this, we were able to corner $1..2 billion from BCCII.
The frst cheque of $250 million was handed to me in December 1985. This is to tell you that Bankole is talking rubbish. We sold it at the officially selling price with no discount. So, we know the price.

In 1984, OPEC hired a Dutch audit firm based in Rotterdam, called KKC to audit all OPEC countries, for what they were producing and what they were selling. They came and they were with us for three days. Nigeria was found the cleanest. They toured all our installations and gave us a clean bill of health.
Bankole needs better circumspection as Speaker of the House of Representtaives, instead of flippantly talking and exposing himself as abjectly ignorant.

He should study. In fact, his statement is intellectually flawed, because what was his premise for the scandalous statement? Is it that these and these figures presented by the Ministry of Finance, the Department of petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Central Bank were different? We are talking about reconciliation of the records of these sources-DPR, the ministry and CBN. I believe he is just interested in causing sensation; he had an eye out for sensationalism, that’s all.

Nigeria has a production quota
Another evidence to flaw him is this. In May 1984, OPEC increased Nigeria ’s production quota from 1.3 million per barrel from August of that year. Now, if we don’t know our quota, how can they increase it? OPEC cannot increase what it did not know.
Then in October 1984, OPEC said member countries should reduce production so that price can go up on pro-rata basis. Nigeria was the first, in the history of that organization, to say no, it would not reduce. I argued at the conference then that, your Excellencies, you just increased our quota, because the Nigerian economy is sick and is still sick. Only a bad doctor will stop treating a patient, when the patient is still sick. Secondly, only a surviving Nigeria is relevant to OPEC. So, Nigeria was exempted. Now, if we don’t know our production, OPEC cannot say, reduce.

Buhari regime and the oil industry
The fact is that during the Buhari regime, we had a General Manager in charge of production. He monitors it. The oil companies had a marching order that within 48 hours, their production figures must be on my table. Then, there was the Petroleum Inspectorate, headed by Ben Osuno, I believe he is still alive. The inspectorate was the policeman of the industry, but Babangida destroyed it by divesting it of its powers and brought instead the DPR.

Now, are they false figures? I say no, they were credible, because there was much discipline during Buhari’s time. And we plotted graphs. So, we knew graphically how we’re doing daily because the market fluctuated.

I challenge Speaker to public debate
I am challenging Bankole to a public debate to show me one area of fraud during Buhari’s time! Instead, we were blocking fraud. Under Buhari, we had one classified international consultant who checked on claims of oil companies for us before we could sign contract or allow them to lift crude.
There were 18 licensed official bunkerers, but we had 4,000 illegal bunkerers. Nigeria was losing $2 million due to this, but, we flushed them all out and cancelled all the contracts and gave to only five major companies that we knew could do it.

All this broke down, because after Buhari, all heads of state and oil ministers became oil Sheiks and that’s why we have problems.
But that does not excuse Bankole. Instead of seeking scandal and sensation, he could have said, ‘look go and reconcile these figure and come back.’ But, he played to the gallery.
Again, if the nation does not have records of how much oil it produces and sells, how come the State and the Federal Government gather every month in Abuja to share from the Federation Account? It’s an insult to past leaders.

But maybe what the Speaker meant to say was that there were no credible records.
Then, he should have been explicit, but he said ‘no record for 40 years, quote me.’ In any case, if he claims that there are no credible records, it presumes he has the credible records.

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