At every opportunity Nigeria shows it is a nation of absurdities as clearly manifested by The Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force (PRSTF) constituted last February to among other things determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues payable to the Federal Government; and take all necessary steps to collect all debts due and owed by enforcing payment terms.
Was it not shameful that neither Ribadu nor Oronsaye did raise any alarm over their âdifferences until they got in front of President Goodluck Jonathan where they were supposed to submit the final report? How can any of them now stand to defend whatever was left of their integrity or rather sincerity of purpose? Shame!
And contrary to what the committee especially the Ribadu faction wanted Nigerians to believe, it did not succeed in catching a single thief and this was even admitted in the cover letter by the chairman himself who technically declared they were submitting an inconclusive report.
It was indeed good for the nation that Ribadu and Oronsaye openly disagreed in the presence of their boss- the President on the integrity of their exercise. But Oronsaye should not just stop at rejecting the Ribadu-version because of the alleged flawed procedure that produced it. He and his faction should actually tell Nigerians why they believed Ribadu did not do a good job. And this should come in form of a minority view/report for record purposes. Oronsaye and his group should make their report public since Ribadu’s own was not submitted to the President at the middle of the night.
Fellow Nigerians, we’ve had enough of this research findings on how much of our oil money were stolen by people in and around government. It only makes us feel more disgruntled about this thing called government. And until we all agree on definite contingency measures even desperate and crude ones including the China option to recover these monies, corruption and stealing in government will never stop. Since I grew up I’ve heard of NNPC/oil sector probes from Abisoye Panel, Belgore Panel, Pius Okigbo, NEITI audits to the present Ribadu/Oronsaye set up not minding other minor inquests. How long can we continue like this as a country?
If we are serious to fight corruption as a nation, rather than the plethora of sterile academic adventures and term papers thereof, our major concern should be: how do we recover our monies stolen under all sorts of guises?
What is the essence of wasting resources and time on fact “finding missions whose findings will never lead to the recovery of a single kobo stolen by these corrupt politicians and their cronies in businesses?
Oronsaye and his faction owe the nation a duty to come out with a minority report which should highlight their dissenting views or maybe additional facts not captured by the Ribadu-version. This should not take time to do since they were part of the original gang. And this should form part of whatever the Emeka Nwogu’s committee is going to look at and come up with the Whitepaper.
Now we know some of the subsidy thieves and their fronts, the minority report and the subsequent whitepaper should tell us how best to recover our monies. There is no need at all in prosecuting these people because they will use a meager part of the stolen monies to wriggle out through our funny judicial system. We should ask for outright refund and/or confiscation of every valuable property home and abroad that belongs or associated to any of the culprits. This way, people in government would know that stealing of public funds can no longer be tolerated.
As said in the Ribadu report, Nigeria was the only nation that sells all its crude oil through international oil traders rather than directly to refineries and this has been a major sore point of fraud and corruption in the nation’s oil business. The Minority report and the whitepaper should be able to unravel the real identities of these oil traders (foreign and Nigerians); how do they lift our crude oil; from where; and what (quantity) did each lift within the period under review?
Ribadu also said some international oil traders who were not on the approved master list of customers had been sold crude oil without a formal contract and so little could be obtained about the details of these deals, which can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. So Oronsaye in his minority report with the information at the disposal of PRSTF committee should provide details of these deals- affected individuals and organizations (local and foreign) and the exact amount the nation lost through these arrangements. The whitepaper should be able to stipulate punitive measures for everybody involved in the alleged dubious deals.
Oronsaye in his minority report should be able to suggest to the federal government in its anticipated whitepaper effective strategies to implement an aggressive debt collection and loot recovery processes for known and criminally overlooked/blurred oil revenues either in the form of signature bonus payments, royalties, taxes, crude oil sale proceeds etc.
The Ribadu report also said Oil Ministers between 2008 and 2011 handed out seven discretionary licenses but there is $183 million in signature bonuses missing from the deals.
The minority report should tell us in precise terms which oil minister handed out which oil blocs and to whom? If its established that the money was missing, how are we going to recover it?
According to the Ribadu report, Shell owes Nigerian government N137.57 billion ($874 million) for gas sold from its Bonga deep offshore field, while oil majors (unspecified) owed $58 million between them for gas flaring penalties as they were not adhering to newer higher fines. It is not just enough for the nation to be told that oil companies owe the nation, the minority report should fashion out workable modalities to recover the debts and this is possible if we are sincere with ourselves as a nation.
And it would be of interest to Nigerians if the minority report can explicitly disclose how much was actually (total receipt) given to Ribadu and his committee for their assignment?
Our new approach should be towards the recovery of at least tangible part of the nation’s stolen funds if not all. This obviously seems the only reasonable stealing/corruption damage limitation measure that is available to us now as a nation since it is fast becoming a hopeless situation. And if Oronsaye and his dissenting team cannot give us something different from what Ribadu has packaged, then they should simply shut up and hide their head in shame and allow Nigerians wait on the God of heaven to send down hailstones upon the thieves at or near the corridors of power.
(IFEANYI IZEZE: firstname.lastname@example.org; 234-8033043009)
By Ifeanyi Izeze