Monday, 5 November 2012

Why Ribadu and Oronsaye Fought Before Jonathan Over Indicting Report

In his bid to prove to his sincerity, President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday directed Ribadu and the chairmen of the two other task forces set up on the oil and gas sector to submit their reports to him on Friday.

The presentation started smoothly at the Chambers of the Presidential Villa with the Chairman of the Task force on Governance, Mr. Dotun Suleiman; and the Chairman, National Refineries Special Task force, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, taking their turns to summarise their reports and formally presenting same.

But a prolonged drama played out as the Chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task force, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and two members of the committee – Mr. Stephen Oronsaye and Mr. Ben Oti – openly disagreed about the process that produced the report and its reliability.

The drama started when Ribadu was called upon to make his presentation. He saluted the President’s courage for setting up the committees and expressed the hope that he would also display courage in implementing the recommendations.

He said all the issues raised in his report were the truth that would set the President and the country free if properly implemented because they would strengthen institutions and increase government revenue.

The former chairman of the EFCC frowned on the use of traders to sell the nation’s crude oil, saying only Nigeria and Republic of Congo did so throughout the world.

“The FG should take action on issues of outstanding royalties, petroleum revenue tax and various penalties, for example, gas flaring penalties,” Ribadu said.

“The companies that are operating in Nigeria today are making huge money from our country. Many of them are going out and investing in other parts of the world.

“We’ve found out that so many of them, even simple thing as royalties they don’t pay. We need the money. We need them here. We need them to continue to do business but also let them also look at us and give us what is certainly our own entitlement.

“Another point I will highlight is the use of traders to sell our own crude oil. Nigeria is the only country in the world today that is doing that, other than Congo. I don’t think we should be comfortable in the neighbourhood of Congo. We have our own crude; we can sell directly like what other countries are doing. Increasing crude oil theft is a national tragedy and has grave consequence and there is need for urgent government action.”

Ribadu asked Jonathan to do more in his fight against corruption if something significant must be achieved by the government.

“Mr. President, you are doing well in fighting corruption but you still have to do more. With corruption you cannot get anything. Corruption means taking the money to wrong direction. If it continues, it is likely that we are going to get to a standstill,” he said.

“Mr. President, you are carrying out reforms, we are pleased with that. From my own personal experience which I want to share with you, carrying out reforms requires integrity otherwise it will come to nothing," Ribadu added.

The drama proper started when he concluded his remarks and made to present the report to Alison-Madueke.

As Ribadu was moving towards the minister, Oronsaye raised his hand signifying his intention to talk. Immediately after Ribadu handed over a copy of the report to the minister, the President recognised the former Head of Service of the Federation, who was at the time making frantic efforts for his raised hand to be noticed.

According to Orosanye, “I want to say to you Mr. President that the process that has been followed is flawed and the report that has just been submitted to the honourable Minister is the immediate reaction to the President’s directive that the report be submitted.

“The last time this committee met was in early July when the draft report was to be considered and I raised certain pertinent issues. It was agreed and suggested and accepted at that meeting that a small group be put together to review, modify and return to the report drafting committee before presenting to the whole house. That did not happen. No matter how good the efforts that have been put into this exercise, as long as the process is flawed and that report is one that cannot be implemented."

Industry watchers are of the view that the likes of Orosanye was planted in the Committee by the Minister of Petroleum to be a stumbling block on Nuhu Ribadu should he decide to go ahead with a report that wont be favourable to her office.

The president has director Orosanye and his co-traveler to submit their own report.

It would be recalled that a copy of the leaked report had indicted the Diezani Alison-Madueke, Minister of Petroleum.

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