Ribadu Promises Red Card for Oil Thieves

THISDAY Newspaper- Chineme Okafor

Malam Nuhu Ribadu Tuesday promised a tough regime for unscrupulous players in Nigeria’s oil sector, declaring emphatically: “The game is over.”

He was speaking after the inauguration of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The 21-member task force was set up by the Federal Government to enhance probity and accountability in the operations of Nigeria’s petroleum industry.

Ribadu, who heads the taskforce, said: “Let me assure you honourable minister and by extension Mr. President and all our citizens that we shall work diligently to meet the expectations of Nigerians, to set a new ethic by promoting values that support a new dawn of business conduct in the sector so that those who play by the rules will enjoy all the best support and the unscrupulous players will get a red card and to that, I will say that the game is finally over.”

The former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said existing operational modalities in the extractive sector was opaque, hence the need to enthrone sustainable and acceptable moral standards.

According to him, “If you ask the average Nigerian of his assessment of the conduct of oil and gas operation, perhaps he will intuitively put it down between poor and appalling. The moral terrain of the extractive industry has always been defined by the kind of value and concept of resource curse, the truth however is that in the effort to reinvent our country as you have rightly pointed out, we must reach to an elevated moral standard of public conduct that bring value to our own people and the broad Nigerian community of citizens who seek nothing in their daily lives than their desires for a country defined by higher ethics and noble hopes.”

He added: “The truth, however, like I said is that Nigeria is today at a cross-road, we are at a threshold, we understand the constitution of this taskforce as part of efforts to connect the public and administration to a newer level of accountability as you have rightly said honourable minister and we applaud this move.”

Alison-Madueke said unlike in the past where several panels and committees set up to reform the petroleum industry had their efforts stalled, the present administration was ready to “break these entrenched interests”.
She said the transformation exercise was geared towards changing the modalities of operation by operators in the country’s oil and gas sector.

According to her, “Today under the directive of President Goodluck Jonathan, we are inaugurating the petroleum revenue taskforce designed to continue and further strengthen the on-going reforms and transformation under the watch and leadership of Mr. President and of course, continuing on the commitment we have begun as an administration to transform the Nigerian oil and gas industry anchored on full transparency and accountability.

“Our journey to transformation is irreversible; our mission is to transform the petroleum industry and in doing so change the way that business is currently done; our purpose is to enhance the commercial and technical viability of the sector, inculcating full transparency and accountability, thereby ensuring value for money for the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The minister noted that probe panels had been variously set up by successive governments to look into the operations of the country’s oil and gas sector without visible results, but that government this time desires to make a difference with its recent actions in the sector.

She said: “We are very mindful that over the years, several panels and committees have been set up to reform the petroleum industry and over the years many of these efforts have been stalled. The time to break these entrenched interests is now.
“In matching our words with action, we are today inaugurating the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force under the very able leadership of Malam Nuhu Ribadu, pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and of course, the steady accounting hands of Mr. Steven Oronsaye, former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.”

Other members of the taskforce are Mallam Abba Kyari, Ms. Benedicta Molokwu, Supo Sasore, Tony Idigbe, Anthony George-Okoli, Dr. Omolara Akanji, Olisa Agbakoba, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Boni Oti, Malam Samaila Zubairu, Ignatius Adegunle and Gerald Ilukwe.

It also has representatives from the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Federal Ministry of Finance Incorporated, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

With terms of reference that include working with consultants and experts to determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues including taxes and royalties due and payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the committee is also expected to take all necessary steps to collect all debts due and owing and to obtain agreements and enforce payment terms by all industry operators.

They will design a cross debt matrix between all agencies and parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, develop an automated platform to enable effective tracking, monitoring and online validation of income and debt drivers of all parastatals and agencies of the ministry as well as work with world-class consultant to integrate systems and technology across the production chain to determine and monitor crude oil production and exports, ensuring at all times the integrity of payments to the Federal Government of Nigeria and submit monthly report for ministerial review and further action.
They are expected to complete their task within 60 working days, subject to extension.


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