Experts Blame Oil Sector Corruption On The Legislature

Yemisi Izuora
NASS
Stakeholders in the Nigerian petroleum industry have blamed the National Assembly for the enormous sleaze in the industry.

They observed that their inability to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) encouraged and influenced the decay in the sector.

BudgIT, Nigeria’s civic technology organisation, which raises the standards of transparency and accountability in public finance, in its analysis of fuel subsidy claims, pointed out that between 2009 and 2011, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) could not remit N1.3 trillion into the Federation account.

While disclosing that NNPC used alternative finance, which carries an interest rate of eight per cent, to finance its joint venture operations, the group noted that the corporation’s account statement had never been available because the law made it mandatory for the corporation to be directly accountable to the presidency.

For many decades, BudgIT explained, the industry had been characterized by lack of transparency in oil industry operations and management, noting that oil revenue receipts and management had been shrouded in much secrecy.

The group said: “Because transparency, due process and accountability were hardly of priority concerns in the past, large scale corruption thrived, exacerbating poverty and undermining the development process.

These developments combined with other policy failures contributed to make most Nigerians poor despite being citizens of a country that is petroleum wealthy.”

Also, a public affairs analyst, Mr. Austin Ibekwe, while reviewing the forensic report of PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) on the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said: “The blame for the problems at the NNPC lies squarely with the National Assembly.

According to him, The PIB laid before the Nigerian National Assembly is still strangely awaiting approval by the legislators after nearly eight years.

The PIB clearly separates policy, regulation, and commercial activities that are currently bundled in NNPC, but the legislators refused to pass it. Nigeria needs to know why. If the PIB had been implemented by the National Assembly (NASS), many of the issues raised by the PwC report would have been taken care of years ago.

In his comment, a development consultant, Mr. Arubi Agama, who also noted that the recently released PWC report, just like those of the Aig-Imoukhuede-led committee, Nuhu Ribadu Committee, KPMG, NEITI and several others, said it highlighted the level of fraud and infractions not only in the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), but also in the petroleum industry.

Agama, while emphasising the inevitability of the PIB, said: “The suggested reforms, if implemented, will create wealth for the country through sale of assets and taxes to be earned from profitable enterprises.
“It will also enhance savings, creation of workplaces, industrial expansion in the oil and gas sector and the economy deepening. Those wishing to expand Nigeria’s participation in the sector through the creation of subsidiaries would, probably, never envisage the NNPC that would be unable to look after itself,” he added.

The Managing Partner of Ascension Consulting Services, Mr. Azeez Alatoye, admitted that the PIB would increase Federal Government’s take and reduce the returns on investment of the International Oil Companies (IOCs), thus ranking Nigeria one of the highest government take regimes in the world.

Alatoye, who is also the Director General of Ascension Academy Institute Limited, said: “Commercialize the government’s interests in the petroleum industry, promote openness and transparency in the Nigerian oil and gas industry and augment the exploitation of petroleum resources in Nigeria
“It would also strengthen local participation in the Petroleum industry, strengthen the Gas Master Plan by enhancing feedstock to power generation facilities, deregulate the downstream petroleum sector and reform the fiscal regime,” he stressed.

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