There are strong indications that the Federal Government has commenced moves to kill the report of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task force headed by ex-boss of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu.
Three months after the Ribadu panel submitted its report on November 2, 2012, the much-expected White Paper that would make the recommendations contained in the document implementable has not been released.
Checks by The Punch in Abuja on Monday indicated that the Federal Government appeared to have lost interest in the report, the content of which was hailed by many analysts at the time of its presentation.
A top government source confided in one of our correspondents on Monday that the Federal Government considered the Ribadu report as “not comfortable” and that most of its “embarrassing” recommendations would be missing whenever the Wogu committee submits its report.
The source added, “Right from the outset, government displayed nonchalant attitude to the report. As things are, there are moves to either kill the report or turn down many of its recommendations.
“It seems the government believes what some people are saying that the committee did not sit enough though we know this is not true.”
Few days after Ribadu submitted the report, however, there had been concerns that the government would eventually dump it when a presidential aide described it as “inconclusive.”
President Goodluck Jonathan’s Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, had said the report appeared to be the work of “certain quarters” to “disparage the genuine efforts of the President to bring sanity and cleanse the Nigerian oil sector once and for all.”
Among other findings, the Ribadu Task Force said in its report that it found that whereas successive ministers of petroleum resources between 2008 and 2011 handed out seven discretionary oil licences, a total of $183m (N28.73bn) in signature bonuses paid by oil companies to the federation was missing from the deals.
During the presentation of the report, the committee’s deputy chairman, Mr. Steve Oronsaye; and another member, Benard Oti, faulted Ribadu over the process that produced the report.
Oronsaye, a former Head of Service of the Federation had alleged that the report did not reflect the position of all members, adding that they were not carried along.
But Ribadu had accused Oronsaye of staying away from the panel’s meetings. Jonathan had nevertheless constituted a White Paper committee on the report.
The committee, led by the Minister of Labour, Mr. Emeka Wogu, was constituted since November 15 and given two weeks to submit its report.
But three months after the deadline, the committee had not submitted its report.
The committee was said to have sought for extension of time from the President.
There were reports on January 4, 2007 that the White Paper committee would submit its recommendation on January 7 but the day went without the report.
In his attack of the Ribadu report, Okupe had also accused the committee of stepping outside its terms of reference.
One of the major terms of reference of the committee, he said, was “to work with consultants and experts to determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (taxes, royalties, etc) due and payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” adding that the committee neglected that aspect of its assignment.
“Unfortunately and most regrettably, this paramount duty of the PRSTF committee could not be accomplished as stated in paragraph four of the covering note signed by chairman Ribadu and secretary of the committee,” he said.
Okupe however denied on Monday that the Federal Government planned to kill or “sit on the report.”
He said, “We just came back from the New Year break and I’m sure the committee is busy with the reports. The committee was given just three weeks to work?
“I’m sure that the report will be published very soon. There is nothing to sit on in the report. There is nothing absolutely to sit on. If there is any problem, it is strictly administrative.”