Monday, October 29, 2012

Jonathan Orders Ribadu Committee to Submit Report Friday

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu

President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, headed by former Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, to submit a comprehensive report to him on Friday.

The 21-member committee is among three others set up by the Federal Government in the wake of the nationwide protests that trailed the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry that led to the rise in the pump price of petrol from N65 per litre to the initial price of N141 per litre.

Two other committees set up by the Federal Government in the wake of the protests to examine other aspects of the country’s petroleum industry are to also present their reports to the president on Friday.

They are the committee established to design a new corporate governance code for ensuring full transparency, good governance and global best practices in the NNPC and other oil industry parastatals headed Mr. Dotun Sulaiman and the committee headed by Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, which was charged with conducting a high-level assessment of the nation’s refineries and recommending ways of improving their efficiency and commercial viability.

The other panel, a special task force to fast track the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law, chaired by former Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has since submitted its report, paving the way for the president to send the revised PIB to the National Assembly in July.

According a statement by the Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, the demand for the reports of the panel is in furtherance of the administration’s commitment to transparency, probity, and accountability in the petroleum sector.

The Ribadu committee, which was set up in February 2012, was required to, among other tasks, determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (taxes and royalties, etc,) due and payable to the Federal Government and to take all necessary steps to collect all debts due and owed; to obtain agreements and enforce payment terms by all oil industry operators. It covers the year 2002 to the present.

Part of the Ribadu panel report, published in the media last week, had reported Nigeria’s loss of tens of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues over the last decade from cut-price deals struck between multinational oil companies and government officials.

The 146-page document provides new details on Nigeria’s long history of corruption in the oil sector, which has enriched its elite and provided the oil majors with hefty profits while two thirds of the people live in poverty.

Although the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, confirmed last Tuesday that she had received the report last month but that it was a draft and the government was still supposed to give its input. But the report submitted by the Ribadu committee was marked “final.”

The report concluded that oil majors - Shell, Total and Eni - made bumper profits from cut-price gas, while Nigerian oil ministers handed out licences at their own discretion.

This, while not illegal, did not follow best practice of using open bids. Hundreds of millions of dollars in signature bonuses on those deals were also missing, Reuters reported.

The presidency, however, has said that it will not any government official indicted by the Ribadu panel report.

It also reiterated the commitment of Jonathan to fight corruption, stating that it is with respect to this that he had directed that the report be submitted to him on Friday.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said the president had neither seen nor received any copy of the Ribadu Committee Report.

“Essentially, what appears to have been irregularly released prematurely to the media is a draft copy which still requires full assent of all members of the committee and clarifications and due process from the originating Ministry before the official handing over to the presidency,” it added.

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