Tuesday, 21 May 2013
The Plot Against Ribadu’s Report-TheNEWS
Powerful aides of President Goodluck Jonathan singed by the report of the Petroleum Revenue Task Force which exposes mismanagement and corruption in the Nigeria oil sector move to discredit it.
Early last week, strident voices of a slew of self-styled civil society advocates and anti-corruption campaigners on Nigerian television networks, and scores of advertorials and articles deriding the report of the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, PRSTF, assailed the sight. But as many Nigerians have since found out, at work was the rent-a-crowd strategy that the country’s governments and officials employ to manipulate public opinion whenever they are under pressure over issues of corruption, mismanagement or human rights abuses. Given events that played out in the Council Chambers of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa the previous Friday, it wasn’t accidental that the propaganda strategy raged last week as some aides of President Goodluck Jonathan strove feverishly to paint a black book of what is now widely known as the Ribadu report. To put it concisely, the report has put them on the spot.
On that eventful penultimate Friday, Steve Osagiede Oronsaye had attempted to throw his weight around. And in the federal government circle, Oronsaye pulls quite some weight. The 62-year-old chartered accountant retired as the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, HOSCF, on 16 November 2010. Before becoming HOSCF, he was Principal Private Secretary to former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, Permanent Secretary, State House and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance. Under Obasanjo, Oronsaye headed many committees and was assigned to handle many responsibilities that included energy (oil) issues. The assignments and responsibilities in oil matters enriched him with extensive knowledge on, and involvement in, the politics and business of the steamy Nigerian oil industry. An official of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board confided in this magazine that Oronsaye was actually the de facto Special Adviser to Obasanjo on oil matters, with the former president referring to him on many occasions on crucial, contentious issues in the oil industry for advice or even outright determination.
Whether out of the thinking that it is necessary to tap from Oronsaye’s deep experience on oil issues, or ostensibly to reward him for his service to the nation, the incumbent Jonathan administration has deemed it fit to give him a board appointment in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. And in February this year, he was named the deputy to Ribadu on the 17-man Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force headed by the former chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The setting up of the task force, Mrs. Dieziani Alison-Madueke, the Minister of Petroleum Resources said, was designed to enhance probity and accountability in the operations of the petroleum industry. The task force was also charged with the responsibilities of helping Nigeria to determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (taxes, royalties, etc.) due and payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria and to take all necessary steps to collect all debts among others. At the same period, Alison-Madueke also set up two other task forces, one on the revival of four refineries owned by the country, and the other, the Special Task Force on Corporate Governance and Controls in the NNPC, led by Dotun Suleiman. +
With the benefit of hindsight of the ugly events two Fridays ago, some analysts are wondering whether Oronsaye, an establishment man, was not deliberately fixed on the PRSTF to throw a wrench in the committee’s works. When the committee honoured the schedule to submit its report to President Jonathan in the Council Chambers on Friday 2 November, it was a drama of discordant voices, rather than a united team that confronted the President. The submission had been preceded by allegations, following leakage of the report by an international news agency, that government was unwilling to act on the report because it indicts favoured members of its kitchen cabinet. It was a harassed Jonathan that, therefore, on 29 October directed Ribadu and the other two committees to submit their reports to him on 2 November.
The task forces had submitted their reports to the Minister of Petroleum Resources who was waiting to present them to Jonathan when Oronsaye showed his hand; the agenda against the report began unfolding. “I want to say to you,” the former HOCSF began, after he had been recognised to speak by Jonathan, “that the process that has been followed is flawed and the report that has just been submitted to the Honourable Minister is the immediate reaction of the President’s directive that the report be submitted.” He added that there were not enough consultations among members of the Task Force in arriving at some of the figures contained in the report: “No matter how good the efforts that have been put into this exercise, as long as the process is flawed, that report is one that cannot be implemented. Let me say, too, that this other report which circulated was actually not accepted by members. That was the reason why the committee has to go back, modify, review and return.” Oronsaye stated that the committee had not completed its work when Jonathan directed that the report be submitted on Friday. He declared that members of the committee should have been bold enough to tell the President that it was not feasible. “I’ve not authorised anybody to sign on my behalf. I don’t know what the report contains. Therefore, in my view, I do not think the report should be accepted at this time.” And in what was a daring challenge to Ribadu, Oronsaye charged any member of the committee take him up on his position.
He was supported by Bon Oti, another member of the committee, who claimed that the report contained figures which were not reconciled or confirmed from the appropriate agencies in the sector to authenticate their genuineness. “I am not persuaded to be part of what is being submitted. I believe it is work in progress,” said Oti.
The claims of the two men were immediately punctured by two other members of the Task Force. Samaila Suberu, its Secretary, accused the former HOSCF of staying away most of the time from the committee’s meetings. He also said Orosanye was fond of complaining about the “harsh” way the Task Force was going about its assignment whenever he attended meetings. Suberu said Oronsaye was opposed to the report because of its perceived harshness: “Opportunity was provided for members to make comments, but they failed to make comments,” he said. He was supported by another member, Ignatius Adegunle, who added that contrary to the submissions of Oti and Oronsaye, the report of the Task Force was based on submissions and data received from government agencies and operators in the oil industry.
Oronsaye quickly retorted: “Some of the figures that were in the draft report were unreconciled figures and I did say in that meeting that we have institutions responsible for these figures and, therefore, we should work with these institutions. I don’t know whether the DPR and the FIRS are here. These are the people who should be talking about these figures and there were statements that were subjective. What I’m saying is that if the President has said we should come and submit the report, so what? If we’re not ready, we’re not ready.”
If Oronsaye thought he would aggressively take on Ribadu unchallenged, then he was at the wrong address. The former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was seething with rage. Looking at Oronsaye hard in the eyes, he disclosed that when members began working assidously for three months immediately after the Task Force was set up, Oronsaye, for reasons known to him, stayed away from the meetings. “It was at the end that he jumped in,” he said. Ribadu also revealed that Oronsaye flew into the country a day before the presentation of the report.
Analysts have been reading meanings into the dissenting member’s sudden arrival and presence at the presentation. Ribadu believed that Oronsaye and Oti’s conflicting opinions and position on the report, which indict the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Alison-Madueke, might have been influenced by their new appointments. Oronsaye was appointed as a member of the NNPC board, while Oti was appointed into a managerial position in the Corporation in the course of the Task Force assignment. Ribadu argued that the two men should have resigned their Task Force membership following their NNPC appointments to avoid a conflict of interest, “but they refused to do so”. Ribadu told Oronsaye that while the other members sacrificed their respective businesses to face the national assignment, he and Oti joined the team very late, and when they eventually did, “they attempted to bully other members into doing the work their own way”. The former EFCC chairman considered Oronsaye’s countenance and general behaviour at the event as gross disrespect to President Jonathan.
It was a visibly embarrassed Jonathan that battled to play down the growing tension the disagreement was generating. He saw such disagreements as normal during committee assignments. “From what I have listened to, I will advise that any member that has any observations should write it and send to me through the Chief of Staff or the Minister (of Petroleum). If there are errors of calculation from the institutions, they will be filtered out. You don’t need to quarrel about it,” he pleaded. Defending Oti and Oronsaye’s appointments into positions in the NNPC in the midst of the Task Force assignment, Jonathan maintained: “Government has no interest in hiding anything. It is not to investigate anybody in government. Becoming board members of the NNPC does not disqualify them to be members of the committee; sometimes you need those in establishment to explain certain things and not to influence anybody. I don’t believe anybody can influence Ribadu negatively,” the President said.
The opposition party, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and other critics thought Jonathan was just being rhetoric. The ACN insisted government deliberately appointed Oti and Oronsaye to positions in NNPC to sabotage the work of the Ribadu Committee. “Alternatively, both men should have resigned their membership of the Committee the moment they were given plum jobs to avoid the apparent conflict of interests. But the fact that they stayed on, only to disparage the report of the Task Force so openly and ferociously at the end, is the clearest indication yet that they were meant to play the exact role of spoilers.” Debo Adeniran, Executive Director, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, stated that a critical look at the situation shows that some forces did not want the report to see the light of day. Adeniran posited it was even the embarrassment that the massive corruption in the oil industry sector was giving Jonathan that forced the Presidency to want to use Ribadu’s name to launder its image.
The Nigerian oil industry is incontrovertibly a cesspool of massive corruption. Outwardly, there have been numerous efforts at investigating the rot, but apparently, there is no sincerity of purpose on the part of the federal government officials to address it. When Jonathan gave Nigerians a strange New Year gift on 1 January this year in increase of the pump price of petrol from N75 per litre to N141, the people rose in nationwide protest, telling the President to clean up the dirt in his administration. The National Assembly waded in. The House of Representatives set up an ad-hoc committee, headed by Farouk Lawan, to probe the fuel subsidy. The committee found that subsidy payments were in excess of N2.5trn by December 2011, about 900 per cent over the originally budgeted sum of N245bn.
That House report indicted the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, forcing the federal government to develop a two-pronged attack. First, the Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala constituted a subsidy review committee chaired by the Access Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. The report the committee submitted on 13 July 2012 reduced the Lawan committee’s figure of N2.5trn to N422.5bn.
There was also the Senate Committee, chaired by Dr. Bukola Saraki, Chairman, Senate committee on Environment and Ecology, which probed the fuel subsidy scam. The Senate committee has since not released its report. The federal government also inaugurated a special task force to fast-track the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, into an Act of the National Assembly. It was headed by Senator Udo Udoma. The PIB, aimed at transforming the nation’s oil industry, was a product of the Oil and Gas Industry Committee, OGIC, which government set up in 2005. Alison-Madueke said: “Though members of the OGIC did a good job, we have all seen that the bill lacked the requirements of the sixth Assembly and needed to be redefined and gingered up for speedy and very expedient passage by the seventh Assembly.” The committee has submitted its report to the minister who is yet to make it public.
The Minister also appointed a former Minister of Finance, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, as the Chairman of a 22-member committee on National Refineries Special Task Force. The committee was mandated to make sure that refineries produce at optimum capacity and come up with the possibility of public-private partnerships to assure their optimal efficiency. The former managing director of the old Unipetrol, Mallam Yusuf Ali, is the alternate chairman and he is to oversee the ongoing rehabilitation and turnaround maintenance of the Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna refineries. The committee has submitted its report to Jonathan.
If the Ribadu committee’s report had not been leaked, analysts said, it would have gone the way of the other reports submitted to government but gathering dust in its offices. The work of the committee was mined with intrigues. As TheNEWS gathered, since part of the task force’s terms of reference was to recover money that oil companies owed Nigeria, it, at a point, agreed to involve the EFCC. Then the companies began paying, recording up to $5mn when something happened. According to an Aso Rock source, Oronsaye and Olisa Agbakoba, a maritime lawyer, once a rights activist and a member of the Ribadu PRSTF, reported Ribadu to Jonathan over the debt matter, arguing that if government was too hard on the companies, they might remove their investments from Nigeria. “Jonathan, therefore, ordered that the companies should stop paying,” the source added. Ribadu was said to have been peeved by the development, especially when some of the oil companies began boasting that they “have taken care of the situation”.
Ribadu was understood to have decided to submit the committee’s report directly to Alison-Madueke, who refused to collect it, although she had accepted the Kalu Idika Kalu PIB (another ministerial committee) report. Ribadu, however, sent it to her and she sat pretty on it. But it was leaked to Reuters! When her plan to frustrate the report failed, she argued that it was a draft, though she did not disagree with the content. According to Chido Onuma, a columnist, “while reacting to the publication by Reuters, [the Minister] had described the report as a draft and that a committee had been set up by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look into the ‘differences in perspective on the Ribadu committee report’ and make an ‘input’. Alison-Madueke who acknowledged receiving the same report last month and failed to act on it said the new committee ‘will complete its work and submit a comprehensive report in the next 10 days.’ ” Interestingly, as Onuma pointed out, Alison-Madueke’s “next 10 days” coincided with Friday 2 November 2012, the day the President directed that the Ribadu committee report be submitted to him.
A day earlier, 1 November, the fifth columnists in the committee had held a meeting with Ribadu. “At that meeting, Agbakoba championed the attack on the report,” the source confided. The same source revealed that Ribadu was so enraged that he asked Agbakoba to “shut up, I know your moves…” It was this shouting encounter with Ribadu that was believed to have made Agbakoba to chicken out – he did not attend the Friday presentation.
The Minister and the President, according to sources, were aware of this meeting. The Minister, as another source told this medium, was so restless about Ribadu’s stubbornness that she asked Oronsanye, who was not at the Thursday meeting, to make sure he appeared on Friday to rubbish the presentation.
“The idea was to rubbish the report through controversies,” a source told this magazine in Abuja. But the logic of the antagonists fell flat. For example, Oronsanye claimed that he was not quarrelling with the content but the procedure adopted in coming up with the report. Does the procedure he had problem with concern collection of monies owed by the oil companies? Critics wonder. This is because that was part of the terms of reference of the task force.
The drama that played out was a culmination of what many believed to be carefully woven intrigues to knock credibility out of the report since some of the key details in it were first made public by Reuters. The report was submitted to Alison-Madueke in July and there are doubts government would have acted or called for the official submission if it had not leaked. The revelation that the document was already gathering dust in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources sparked allegations of attempt at cover-up, a suspicion reinforced by the copious indictment in the document, of Madueke’s management of the sector . The public release of key details in the report sparked calls for immediate removal of Madueke from office over what many see as her attempts to tamper with key findings in the report, which she had in a somewhat derisive manner, dismissed as a “draft” in an interview with journalists.
The Ribadu team’s review covered 2002 to 2012, incorporating activities under former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, without mentioning his name. “That is why Obasanjo is not happy about that report,” a politician, close to the retired general, revealed.
Agitated Aso Rock officials were said to have begun to rue the day Ribadu was appointed to head the committee. A very top official in the Presidency was heard complaining bitterly: “Did we not say this? What did you expect from Ribadu? You went to bring in a mad man, see what he has caused now.”
The Ribadu team was asked to work 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, take all necessary steps to collect all debts due and owing, and to obtain agreements and enforce payment terms by all oil industry operators. It was also to come up with a cross-debt matrix between all agencies and parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources; and develop an automated platform to enable effective tracking, monitoring and online validation of income and debt drivers of all parastatals and agencies in the ministry.
Civil society groups and labour unions pointedly accused the President Jonathan administration of attempting to cover up the fraud uncovered in the report because it indicts one of the administration’s favoured ministers. This suspicion was reinforced by the fact that government was also singing the same tune with the Minister. In its reaction to the controversies, President Jonathan, speaking through Reuben Abati, his spokesperson, said that to government, the report in the public domain was suspicious. “It is strange that government will set up a committee, its report has not been submitted to the authorities that set up the committee and the report will be found on the pages of newspapers,” said Abati. “What appears to have been irregularly released prematurely to the media is a draft copy which still requires full assent of all members of the committee and clarifications and due process from the originating ministry before the official handing over to the Presidency,” Doyin Okupe, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs added.
The report uncovered NNPC as remaining a source of free funds for all sorts of fancy of government of the day despite claims of reforms of the Corporation by successive Nigerian governments. The document indicates that Nigeria has in the past 10 years lost over N16 trillion to various criminal activities in the sector. The Task Force especially notes that hydrocarbon theft is a major avenue for loss of revenue from the national treasury. Based on the estimated annual loss of 250,000 barrels per day, and yearly loss of N1 trillion, the Ribadu committee estimates that N10 trillion was lost to crude oil theft alone in the past 10 years. The estimated loss, according to the Task Force, was based on submissions made by operators in the industry.
Shell, the biggest operator in the upstream sector of the industry, told the committee that it found at least 50 tap points on its 90 kilometres Nembe trunk line in January 2011 alone. The multinational oil company admitted that the average total loss of crude oil to thieves in its operational areas has climbed from 10,000bpd in late 2009 to over 50,000bpd in March 2012. Its competitor, Chevron, also claimed that oil loss from its operations in the first quarter of 2012 exceeded losses for all of 2011. NNPC, the Task Force says, put its total losses from 2009 to first quarter of 2012 at over 20 million barrels. It also observed that various estimates by international oil companies and government officials of the scale and volume of crude theft ranged from 6 to 30 per cent of production. “The Task Force did not receive comprehensive figures documenting volumes of refined products stolen or spilled. PPMC also recorded 4,468 product pipeline breaks in 2011, 98 per cent of them from sabotage; and values the products stolen from its pipeline network between 2001 and 2010 at N178bn,” the Task Force notes. It remarks that increasing incidents of crude oil theft have not only served as a disincentive to investments, but are also bleeding the country financially as a result of deferred production. It cites the example of Shell which has had to declare a force majeure on onshore liftings five times since early 2011 as a result of damages to its pipeline as a result of illegal bunkering. “Government data shows dozens of fields sabotaged before the amnesty still sit idle. Shell’s onshore output currently around 600,000bpd is barely half of 2005 levels. In Delta State, Chevron still produces one third less oil than it did in 2008…” states the Task Force.
Another key finding of the Task Force is the 445,000bpd crude oil allocation to NNPC for local refining, but which the Corporation is selling abroad. The NNPC has always claimed it is selling the crude oil allocation because the local refineries lack the capacity to refine them. But the Task Force discovered that the NNPC had been underpaying the national treasury by about $5bn from revenue realised from the sale of crude oil allocated to it in the period covered by its assignment. It also uncovered inconsistencies in the 2002 to 2011 records of the NNPC on implementation of the policy to allocate crude oil to the Corporation and the manipulation of the exchange rate used in determining the naira equivalent payable into the national treasury. “The Task Force also compared the average price per barrel payable by NNPC for domestic crude with the average weekly prices for Nigeria Bonny Light, Forcados, obtained from the Energy Information Administration, EIA. The review revealed that over a 10-year period (2002 -2011), the State may have been short-paid by an estimated sum of $5 billion, although it was understood from discussions with NNPC officials that the pricing of domestic crude oil was based on international prices,” writes the Task Force.
Review of the domestic crude utilisation also showed that the percentage not refined in-country ranged from between 50 per cent and 88 per cent over the 10-year period. The total potential underpayment from all the shenanigans of the NNPC as regards the sale of crude oil allocation to it for domestic refining was estimated over the 10-year period at N86.6bn. The Task Force also says it observed that some traders lifting Nigeria crude were not listed on the approved master list of customers who had a valid contract and were selected through an annual bidding process. Indeed, it notes, Nigeria is the world’s only major oil producer that sells 100 per cent of its crude to private commodities traders, rather than directly to refineries. Many of the traders have not, over the years, demonstrated renowned expertise in the business of crude oil trading. As was discovered, the use of crude oil traders by the NNPC is not in accordance with global trends in which national oil companies have their own trading arms. “Various submissions to the Task Force demonstrated the potential for lost margins to middlemen, manipulation of pricing, sub-optimal returns and market fraud as emanating from this policy and practice,” the Task Force notes.
The committee uncovered over N298bn deficit from the accounts of 16 different subsidiaries of the NNPC within the period. According to the report, $183mn (N28.7bn) remain outstanding from signature bonuses, while the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, recorded another $2.9mn (N455mn) outstanding from its various concessionaires. A total amount of $3.027bn (N475.2bn) was recorded as outstanding royalties, with Addax Petroleum alone defaulting by $1.5bn in the 2003 fiscal regime. Nigeria was found to have lost $29bn (N4.55trn) to deficit payment from the sale of Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG, while $115mn (N18bn) outstanding was discovered not to have been reconciled from the amount of penalties for gas flaring. A sum of $58mn remained uncollected from the companies that were penalised.
The Task Force discovered that the DPR lacks the capacity to independently track and measure gas volumes produced and flared and instead depends on information provided by the operators. It also observes that the periodic reconciliation meetings with the operators to address the gas flare volumes were delayed, with only six completed of 36 at the time of the review. It observes there is no single point accountability for the income and expenditure streams of upstream petroleum operations. Investigations revealed that legislation governing the industry and agreements with third parties are either outdated, do not reflect current economic or legal realities; or include ambiguous clauses. Again, there are numerous discretions in the award of oil blocks, with consequent revenue losses for Nigeria. Mismanagement of past bid rounds by government had resulted in lower demand and fewer qualified bidders, as uncompleted deals weakened government returns. Review of allocations of oil blocks done revealed an outstanding signature bonus of $183mn due to the nation’s treasury. Interestingly, award of three of the discretionary oil licences were done during the current Alison-Madueke tenure.
The Task Force details how funds realised from the sale of crude oil are being treated as slush funds, used to finance various inanities by the NNPC and the Presidency. The NNPC, for instance, spent N2.23bn for the acquisition of a helicopter for the President and heavily on sponsorship of the World Cup. The Corporation also gave out another N700.5mn in loan to the Sao Tome & Principe, based on instruction from the Presidency, paid N2.421bn to a foreign company, the Royal Swaziland Sugar Company and engaged in periodic funding of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources despite the fact that the Ministry operates its own annual budget. The Task Force discovered that NNPC was being used as an illegal lender to presidential committees, ministries and parastatals. One of such instances was the N20bn loan to the Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security on the instruction of the Presidency. The Corporation claimed to have underwritten N521mn in expenses incurred by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and spent another N250mn on court cases involving the ministry. The Ribadu committee put the amount of money siphoned from the NNPC coffers through such sundry expenses in the past 10 years at over N50bn.
The Task Force recommends, among others, the scrapping or reorganisation of the NNPC, review of the use of crude oil traders and enactment of a law that will require all oil companies to disclose all payments made to Nigeria.
Though Alison-Madueke described the report as draft, she started defending herself against some of the allegations even before the report was formally presented to the President. Against the allegations that some international oil traders who were not on the approved master list of customers had been sold crude oil without a formal contract, the Minister insisted that there are no informal contracts and there is “an official tender put out every year, which could be seen by the public in newspapers”. She swore she has not given any discretionary awards during this administration, and added that the President has the right to do so instead of using bids if he deems it fit. “That is entirely up to him,” she said.
But Ribadu told journalists that the report submitted to the President is the same that has been in the public domain, contrary to insinuations to the contrary. “There is no difference and you can see clearly what happened. We work for our country and we work for our people and stand by what is the truth. Nothing can change that. What we said is exactly what we have produced,” he declared.
Apart from the media campaign to rubbish the Ribadu report, there was the discreet publication of a letter purportedly signed by Ribadu and Olasupo Sasore, another member of the Task Force to the Petroleum Minister. The two men were said to have told the Minister in the letter that some of the data contained in their reports were unverified.
The Ribadu report has already received the support of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, which indicated last week that the findings contained in the report were not different from those it unearthed in its past investigations of the Nigerian oil industry. The Initiative said it had also uncovered about $9.8bn recoverable fund due to the Federation Account from operators in the oil industry, but which the government has not made efforts to retrieve.
Alison-Madueke told journalists that she would be sitting with the different task forces in the next few days to thrash out areas of misunderstanding in their reports. But many Nigerians have expressed misgivings about anything meaningful coming out of the findings at the end of the day. “Almost all of those indicted have skeletons in their cupboard. Their cronies are just hatchet people working to rubbish the report. We know what is happening. If the President wants to fight corruption – which I know he does not, going by the fate of similar reports – he should work with the report,” Emma Eneukwu, National Publicity Secretary, All Nigeria Peoples Party, quipped. Ribadu himself had advised the President that only a person of integrity can carry out reforms, “otherwise it will come to nothing”. Ribadu did, indeed, advise government to take action on issues of outstanding royalties, petroleum revenue tax and gas flaring and penalise offenders decisively. “The companies that are operating in Nigeria today are making huge money from our country. Many of them are going out and investing in other parts of the world. We’ve found out that so many of them even don’t pay a simple thing as royalties. We need the money. We need them here. We need them to continue to do business. But they should also look at us and give us what is certainly our own entitlement,” Ribadu fumed.
The President has assured the Ribadu report would be well examined and necessary action taken in all efforts to sanitise the murky Nigerian oil industry. Only a few Nigerians believe him. The question is: Will the President prove cynics wrong this time? It is generally agreed as unlikely.
—ADEMOLA ADEGBAMIGBE/ OLUOKUN AYORINDE