By – Taoreed Alaba
Those who describe Nigeria as a corrupt endemic nation may not be wrong, going by the rate at which corruption has permeated every sector of national life. The global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, in a recent Corruption Index Report rated Nigeria as one of the countries that are most vulnerable to corruption and even ranked it 134 on the list of most corrupt sovereign nations in the world.
When the House of Representatives set-up a committee to look into the rapacious payments made to service fuel subsidy, following the Federal Government’s removal of the subsidy on January 1, 2012, not many Nigerians had imagined that the oil sector would be as ‘dirty’ as the recent probe report on the sector has revealed! Today, the repulsive and offensive stench coming from the sector has once again portrayed Nigeria in bad light.
The Lawan Farouk Ad-hoc Committee of the House of Representatives that conducted the probe into the payment of subsidy in the downstream sector of the Nigerian economy has made public its report. Expectedly, the revelations were startling and mind boggling! The report showed that contrary to the Federal Government’s claim that N1.3 trillion was supposed to be the total amount of money paid as subsidy in 2011, more than N1.75 trillion was actually paid in 2011, according to the data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to the report, NNPC itself has an outstanding of over N150 billion. The other marketers have over N100 billion as outstanding. The report also showed that subsidy in 2011 over PMS and Kerosene stood at over N2 trillion.
Out of 120 firms earlier indicted, 69 firms were to pay back a total of N241.247 billion with the least firm refunding N1.2billion, while the highest, according to the report, will refund N8.5billion. Also, it was discovered that 46 of the fraudulent firms, despite profiteering from the largesse coming from the payment of subsidy were also evading tax. And as if to cap it all, a waste disposal firm was reported to have been paid N1.9b subsidy for products it never supplied.
In what appears to be the greatest surprise emanating from the report of the probe panel, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Petroleum Product and Pricing Agency (PPRA), were all part of the cabals defrauding the Federal Government.
However, the earlier fears raised by cross sections of Nigerians came to fore when names of some firms and individuals were missing in the list of the indicted companies.
It would be recalled that in December 2011, the Senate made the shocking disclosure that some 100 companies in the downstream sector and in construction, shared over N1.426 trillion in the payment of subsidy between January and August 2011.
The Chairman, Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Appropriation and Finance, Senator Magnus Abe further disclosed that companies owned by some prominent Nigerians were part of the beneficiaries of the subsidy payments.
The Senate committee released the list of the following companies as those who benefitted from the payment of subsidy between January and August 2011: Oando Nigeria Plc -N228.506 billion, MRS Ltd-224.818 billion, Enak Oil & Gas-N19.684 billion, Conoil-N37.960 billion, Bovas & Co Nig. Ltd-N5.685 billion, Obat-N85 billion, Integrated Oil & Gas-N30.777 billion, IPMAN Investment Ltd N10.9 billion, Africa Petroleum Plc- N104.83 billion, AMP Petro-energy-N11.4 billion, A.Z Petroleum-N18.13 billion, Capital Oil-N22.42billion, Dozle Oil and Gas- N3.37 billion, Mobil Oil Plc-N18.60 billion, Matrix Energy- N12.612 billion, Ford Oil –N8.502 billion, North West Petroleum and Gas-N46.27 billion, Nipco Plc-N23.2 billion, Ontario Oil and Gas-N24.9 billion, Origin Oil and Gas-N2.69 billion, Bill and Ocean Energy-N1.77billion.
Oando Oil is owned by Wale Tinubu, Mike Adenuga owns CONOIL, Femi Otedola owns AP, while MRS Oil is run by Aliko Dangote’s brother, Sayyu Dantata. Other key players named were Pinaccle Construction Ltd, as well as Integrated Oil and Gas, which is owned by a former Minister of the Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho.
Surprisingly, most of the companies listed above have disappeared from the latest report submitted to the House by Lawan Farouk ad-hoc committee.
Industry watchers are of the opinion that the Farouk Lawan’s report must have been doctored based on the facts that many of the aforementioned companies have disappeared from the list.
Findings by Oil and Gas Publication indicate that there must have been a secret arrangement between these influential Nigerians to have their names removed from the list while they make refund to the coffers of the government by installment.
The Presidency, we gathered, had compelled the leadership of the Lower Chamber to remove the names of these powerful Nigerians from the list to shield them from the wrath of Nigerians whose eyes have been on these people referred to as the ‘untouchable cabal’ in the oil industry.
Oil and Gas Publication gathered that a meeting purportedly held last month at Aso-Rock at the instance of President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate Leader, House Speaker and the cabal, as well as other stakeholders, was where the agreement was reached.
The magazine also gathered that the President was helpless, based on the fact that some members of this powerful cabal contributed largely to his ‘war chest’ during the 2011 Presidential electioneering campaign. Sources revealed to Oil and Gas Publication that one of the members of the oil cabal was even said to have bought a house worth billion of naira for the President at Maitama area in Abuja.
A text message sent by Oil and Gas Publication to Presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati for clarification on the matter was yet to be replied as at the time of filling in this report.