HOUSE PROBE: RESPONSE FROM JONATHAN'S (WO) MEN OF SHAME? By: Ifeanyi Izeze
Listen to the leaders, and it would be easy to conclude that the root of the problem is the moral failings of Nigeria's so called ruling class.
These people accuse each other of letting corruption and unfairness thrives, because they are variously nasty, incompetent or unable to stand up to vested interests.
Was it not shocking that officials of all the government agencies involved in the fuel subsidy scam gave Farouk Lawan and his House Committee different figures as the nation's daily fuel consumption? Petroleum Minister Diezieni Madueke said Nigerians consume 52million Liters daily; the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Austin Oniwon gave 35million liters as our daily consumption.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) said it was 43million liters per day; the executive secretary of the PPPRA claimed it was 24million liters; while the Finance Minister, Okonjo-Iweala stood at 40million liters as our daily consumption volume. Nigeria we hail thee!
The very interesting aspect of this shameful display at the parliamentary probes is that almost all of these agencies and their top officials report directly to the Presidency. So does it mean that there is no synergy at all? If for nothing, at least to harmonize and tell the lies intelligently.
If we don't know for sure the actual volume we consume domestically how do we know what the nation actually paid out as subsidy? This is really disturbing. Different figures were presented as subsidy for last year (2011) by different officials that were supposed to have been working. While Diezani said it was N1.4 trillion, Okonjo-Iweala gave her own figure as N1.3trillion very different from what the CBN said was the total figure of N1.7trillion.
None of these people charged with managing the nation's oil sector could agree with each other on the accurate current capacity utilization of our local refineries. The NNPC said the refineries ran at 60 percent installed capacity while the petroleum minister and the DPR gave their own figures of 30 percent and 15 percent respectively. Of course, the PPPRA said the plants operated at 20 percent installed capacity. What a shame?
Does Nigeria pay subsidy on locally refined Products? The petroleum minister said it depends; the NNPC group managing director said “the layman cannot understand how it's done. While the executive secretary of the PPPRA answered yes to the same question, the DPR said emphatic“No.”
The status of the subsidy accounts was another area that saw a shameful display of uncoordinated lies. Diezieni said the account is a virtual one; NNPC said there is no account in existence as the lay man will look at it; while the PPPRA claimed “the account is a technical one.”
And contrary to the CBN position that “there is no account with us for subsidy,” the finance minister posited that “the account exists but not with a bank.”
How long can we afford to continue like this as a country?
The Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) that was supposed to be a watch -dog to the government agencies involved in all kinds of payments in this subsidy scam on its part, only displayed a complete aloofness in the questions of irreconcilable subsidy payments.
When the Farouk Lawan-led House Committee asked NEITI's officials: “what did NEITI see of the activities in the nations upstream and downstream sectors so far?”
Their answer was that the findings of the body show that “recordings of the concerned government agencies are paper-based, contrary to best global practice, and as such are subject to errors.
They most probably meant manipulations because the petroleum minister had said there was no doubt there have been manipulations of numbers and figures in the administration of fuel subsidy.
The question is: On what moral platform is NEITI standing to condemn the scam in the subsidy scheme? Where was the organization when all the anomalies went on in the subsidy payments over the years?
Why is it that good concepts that work very well elsewhere in the world always produce aberrations in Nigeria? When the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) was established about five years ago by an Act-NEITI Act 2007, it was supposed to be the Nigerian subset of a global initiative aimed at following due process and achieving transparency in financial transactions between extractive industry companies (including downstream operators in the oil and gas sector) and federal government and government-linked entities. However, how this initiative has carried out its statutory mandate is still at best blurred and at worst obscured.
From obvious indications, NEITI merely parades a very clear vision to see fraud and corruption but it is very blind or rather disabled in ensuring that exposed genuine cases are pushed beyond the pages of newspapers.
Is it not surprising that NEITI looked the other way and waited to be begged to pick up issues in the established lapses in the payments in the nation's fuel subsidy scheme?
It has been posited severally that NEITI as an institution was deliberately structured to be impotent or rather to only bark without the teeth to bite. Of course how can it bite when everything about the conscription was comfortably embedded into the day to day bureaucracy and funding largess of the Presidency where the demons causing the problems of the NNPC , PPPRA, PEF among other fraud-colored conscription are domiciled since the days of Obasanjo- Ezekwesili transparency campaign.
The organization was packaged to feign aggressive campaign with inbuilt mechanism to avoid even mere mention of the bigger accomplices in the fraud. NEITI cannot deliver on this because, as it is currently structured, the organization dines and wines with the culprit in this entire matter- the Presidency.