The Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Hon. Dakuku Peterside, has endorsed the leaked findings of the Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenues Task Force as a true reflection of the huge corruption in the nation’s petroleum sector.
Although, Hon. Peterside said he had not yet seen the full report, he insisted in a chat with Vanguard that it was a confirmation of the earlier findings of the House of Representatives, which investigated the nation’s petroleum revenues last year.
According to him: “I have not seen or read the report, but going by stories published by newspapers concerning the content of the report, there is nothing the Ribadu-led Committee said in its report that has not been said before. These include the fact that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was selling crude oil to itself below the international price; that NNPC was fixing exchange rates by itself; that it sells part of the 445,000 barrels of crude oil allocated to it because it refines at below 25 per cent of installed capacity.
He continued: “Corruption has become part of our body politic unless something is genuinely done about it. I don’t yet believe that we are serious about fighting corruption.”
He further explained that the House stumbled on the facts concerning the huge corruption prevailing in the nation’s petroleum sector last year when it set up a joint committee to probe the country’s income through the petroleum industry.
Said he: “This actually happened after the state governors refused to collect their states’ allocations from the federation account on the ground that it was far less than what they expected. It was this committee that unearthed all these diversions of revenue from the federation account” .
It would be recalled that the leaked report of the Ribadu-led panel indicated that Nigeria lost about N4.64 trillion over the last decade from oil deals struck between multinational oil companies and government officials.
The Committee headed by Former EFCC chairman Nuhu Ribadu was reported to have submitted its report last month. It was set up by Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke last January to retrieve outstanding oil revenues payable to the Federal Government.
Reuters news agency had earlier reported that the committee produced a 146-page report covering the period 2002 to 2011, providing new details on long history of corruption in the oil sector.
The report concluded that oil companies made bumper profits from cut-price gas, while petroleum ministers handed out licences at their own discretion. This did not follow best practice of using open bids. The report also revealed that hundreds of millions of dollars in signature bonuses on those deals were also missing.
According to media report: “ The NNPC made N86.6 billion over the 10-year period by using overly generous exchange rates in its declarations to the government. There was no sign of the money.”
The report showed that billions of dollars of revenue was missing in unpaid debts from signature bonuses and royalties. Several oil and gas companies were also indicted for paying the country for gas at cut-down prices before exporting to international markets.
However, the report had also indicated that whereas there was no suggestion that the oil majors or traders had done anything illegal, it highlighted a lack of transparency in their dealings.
Already Allison Madueke has reportedly responded to media reports on the development by insisting it is a draft.
According to her “there will be some areas where the government may have a slightly different opinion and will put its point of view to the committee.”
The Ribadu-led committee was among several set up following a week of nationwide strikes against a rise in fuel prices last January, which led to a campaign against oil corruption.