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…frowns at plan to spend N30.399bn on recurrent budget

By Henry Umoru
ABUJA - THE Senate, yesterday, ordered the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, to  submit its nominal roll for scrutiny, just as it frowned at the department's plans to spend N30.399 billion as its recurrent expenditure out of a total budget of N35 billion for this year.

The directive was given when the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Goni Sheikh, appeared before the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources, (Downstream) to shed light on some figures earlier presented to the committee.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Magnus Abe, PDP, Rivers South East, said the order became imperative following the discovering that the DPR has a current staff strength of 1,108 with projections to employ additional 250.

Also yesterday, the Senate hailed the setting up of the Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force by the Federal Government, stressing that it would help ensure probity and accountability in the nation's oil sector.

The Committee also praised the Minister for Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke for establishing the Task Force, saying: 'Please, convey my congratulations to the Minister for setting up the task force. I was very happy with the quality of people chosen to work on the PRSTF. I am particularly happy with the selection of Prof. Olusegun Okunnu who I know is an expert in restructuring.

'How the people are now utilised is another thing but it is a good step in the right direction.'

Meanwhile, Goni has explained that the task force was set up to fast track Jonathan administration's policies and programmes aimed at satisfying  yearnings of Nigerians for transparency in the petroleum industry.

Director of DPR, Austin Olorunshola, had defended the recurrent budget, saying the department has 250 people on its employment waiting list with another 200 lined up for employment in the second or third quarter of the year.