Nigerian Senate clarifies reason for oil sector probe
THE Senate yesterday explained that it was not prepared to interfere in the work of the House of Representatives hence it had to soft-pedal and carry out similar probe of the N1.7tr oil subsidy five days after the lower chamber rounded off its investigation.
This was explained yesterday when some oil marketers appeared before the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Appropriation and Finance chaired by Senator Magnus Abe, PDP, Rivers South East to unfold to the Committee how much was spent and who collected what from the N1.7tr oil subsidy.
According to Abe, ‘’this investigation was on-going before the House of Representatives started its own; we decided not to interfere to allow the house to wind down. The Committee will conclude this investigation in accordance with our mandate. It is therefore not appropriate for us to comment on the issue, what the National Assembly is concerned about is the people, we have the interest of the people; whatever will arise will be settled by the leadership of the National Assembly.’’
At the hearing yesterday, the Senate gave tomorrow as deadline for the Chairman, Capital Oil, Ifeanyi Uba, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Engr. Austin Oniwo, the Executive Secretary, Petroleum Product Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, Reginald Stanley to submit all their profiles.
Some of the oil companies that appeared before the Committee frowned at the way and manner the PPPRA allocates quantities of petroleum products imported by oil companies, just as they called for improvement in the allocation of quantity of oil to be imported, adding that presently some of them were importing below the capacity they would have otherwise desired.
Particularly, the Managing Director of Conoil Nigeria Plc, Abiodun Wahab told the Committee that that if Nigeria as a country must address the present problem that called for the probe, there was the need for a proper re-certification of the industry by the PPPRA, just as he said that the way and manner allocations were handled last year was beyond expression.
He however advised that the rules must be adhered to for those who do not have any business to be in the industry to find other businesses to engage in, rather than destroy the sector. Wahab who raised some concern over insecurity on the nation high seas, explained to the committee that his company had allied for as much as I60,000 Metric Tons but had not been able to get that quantity, adding that some of the oil firms had to take their vessels to neighbouring countries such as Republic of Benin and Togo because of inadequate storage facilities at the nation’s ports.
According to him, ‘We are very clean and we do not engage in any over payment. As a company, we don’t share products but the facilities that we have at the port can not take the products that we bring in. We need to split the products but there is a security risk because of the way pirates operate. We have to move to the next port which is near to us in the neighbouring countries. It is because of the difficulties in the jetties.’’
Speaking further yesterday, Senator Abe, the profiles to be submitted today must contain the memoranda of Understanding, MoU signed by the companies with the PPPRA, record of sales transactions, among others to enable the Committee ascertain who was involved, and the level of involvement as well as the place of origin of the cargo.
‘’All the companies that participated in this subsidy must submit their profile to this committee to contain MoU in the next forty-eight hours to then focus on issues that will come up, ‘’Abe said.