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Reps To APC: We Can't Probe Crude Oil Swap Twice

Source: pointblanknews.com
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The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Hon.

Abdulmumin Jibrin, said the House through his committee has in the past

investigated the Crude Oil Swap between Nigeria and two indegineous firms,

following petitions from the Nigeria public, and as such the the House

can't waste it's precious time for another round of exercise.

The lawmaker, an All Progressives Congress (APC) member declared that “Our

House committee has been neck deep in querying and investigating NNPC,

Department of Petroleum Resources, Accountant General of the Federation

and the Federal Inland Revenue Service on a frequent basis about several

transactions that impact on the oil revenues paid into the Federation

Account”.
Hon. Jibrin who threw more light on the crude oil swaps, said his

committee, had in the past, received several petitions on the programme,

and having carried out its own independent investigation on the

transactions, he had come to the realisation that “a lot of information

out there on the swap template is over-exaggerated”.

“This includes such transactions as crude oil lifting by companies in

exchange for petroleum products. While the importation of petroleum

products is not ideal for a crude oil-producing country, but these are

transactions that were put in place following NNPC's inability to meet

domestic demand for petrol and other products from its refineries.”‎

‎Hon. Jibrin was reacting to a call by the APC on the National

Assembly to probe the crude oil-for-petroleum-products barter programme

and particularly beam its searchlight on the activities of two indigenous

oil firms involved in the crude oil swaps.
According to him,  such a call could be interpreted by the Nigerian public

to mean over-heating the polity and politicking on the activities of the

nation's oil industry with its adverse effects of scaring away foreign and

local investments.
APC had on Sunday invited the House Committees on Petroleum (Downstream),

Petroleum (Upstream), Justice and Senate Committee on Finance to

investigate Taleveras and Aiteo, which had been engaged by the Nigerian

National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to lift some of its crude in

exchange for imported petroleum products.
He also cautioned the APC against being dismissive over the pedigree of

Taleveras and Aiteo, stating: “It is not the age of a company that

matters, but its ability to deliver.
“We have had companies that may have existed for decades but are later

sidelined by new entrants into the same business which are more efficient

and technologically savvy.”
Also, commenting on the statement by the party that the $2.85 billion bid

submitted by the two firms for the Shell oil block showed that they were

stupendously wealthy, Jibrin said this was not indicative of the liquidity

of Taleveras and Aiteo, as companies are known to raise such funds through

a combination of debt and equity.
“As is the case with most transactions, oil firms are known to hedge their

risk by utilising their network of contacts to pool together their sources

of funds.
“I do not believe $2.85 billion is sitting in the bank accounts of

Taleveras and Aiteo. Even the likes of (Aliko) Dangote finance their

big-ticket transactions through debt and equity coming from various

partners. This is even more imperative for oil firms, which are known to

enter into partnerships to spread the risks associated with E&P

activities.
“So rather than make statements that might look like we are trying to

undermine indigenous oil firms, we should encourage them as part of our

goal to build local content in the oil and gas sector,” he said.

Nonetheless, Jibrin added that his reaction to his party's statement

should not be misconstrued as one asking the APC to turn a blind eye to

any underhand deal, stating: “We have a duty to carry out investigations

where necessary, but it should be done with the full information and

knowledge of what obtains in the oil and gas sector, and not just based on

hearsay.”‎
He said while he would not want to take issue with the party, as is a

loyal member of APC who believes in the ideals and aspirations of the

party, he deemed it necessary to advise the party where a mistake has been

made.
“I am a loyal member of the APC, I believe in the ideals of the party and

would continue to respect the party. I also recognise that parties all

over the world have the right to issue directives to their members in the

legislature.
“However, the situation we have in the House today is peculiar because it

is polarised and suspicions abound that have served to deepen the

divisions in the green chamber instead of uniting us.

“For instance, my committee has 31 members comprising PDP (Peoples

Democratic Party) and APC members, so whenever APC issues a directive, our

colleagues from the PDP immediately gets suspicious about its intentions,

even where they are in the best interest of the country,” he said.

Jibrin stressed that he decided to speak up on the party's statement so

that the divisions and mistrust in the House would not get worse, adding:

“There is need for unity in the House, not deeper divisions. Right now,

the party should help unite the House so we can work together for the

larger interest of the country and people who elected us to represent

them.
“This has nothing to do with the fear that some of us who defected from

the PDP to APC may be evicted from the House, because no one can ask us to

vacate our seats. However, there is a need to douse the tension in the

House so we can work together instead of working at cross-purposes, and

the party has a role to play in this.”
Jibrin further pointed out that given the depth of knowledge his committee

and others in the House have on NNPC's finances, the party should have

consulted its members before the statement was issued on the call to probe

the swap programme, Taleveras and Aiteo.