Monday, August 13, 2007
'Bombed': Nigeria's President Yar'Adua
What appears a bombshell exploded on President Umaru Yar’Adua at the weekend, with fresh revelation that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) fleeced the nation of a whooping N555 billion between December 2004 and April this year.
Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mr Hamman Tukur, who made the shocking disclosure during a courtesy call on the President at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja, said the nation may have lost the huge sum from its federation account, due to lack of transparency and accountability which bedevilled the computation, procedure of payment and stakeholders involved with the fuel subsidy.
The report is coming on the heels of an expose in which top officials of the corporation, allegedly milked the nation’s cash cow of another N502 billion through various frauds including producing crude oil far in excess of assigned Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota and converting the proceeds to political electioneering and selfish ends.
Some two billion dollars were also said to have been diverted between United Kingdom and Bermuda in certain shady deals involving Nigerian officials.
Worsening the picture of the rot in the oil sector, the United States Justice Department also recently claimed that the US oil services company, Wilbros, bribed officials of the NNPC, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Nigerian government millions of dollars in a bid to secure the $387 million Eastern Gas Gathering System project.
Funsho Kupolokun, until last Thursday the Group Managing Director of the corporation was sacked and replaced with Abubakar Yar’Adua, by the President on Friday.
There are speculations that Kupolokun could come under probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for sundry allegations of misdeeds, including award of contract to an oil firm in which he had interest.
But alarmed at the magnitude of the emerging sleaze, eminent Nigerians and groups have called for a full-scale audit of the corporation and probe of the alleged scams.
The opposition Action Congress (AC) in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the handling of the allegations would be a litmus test for the Yar’Adua administration in its avowed commitment to the fight against corruption.
But former Petroleum Resources Minister, Professor Tam David-West, reacting to reports that the EFCC may go after Kupolokun for the wrong-doings at NNPC, said former President Olusegun Obasanjo should be arrested alongside the ex-GMD to answer questions on the mess in the oil ministry for the eight years he was the Petroleum Resources Minister.
His contention is that Obasanjo could not plead ignorance of the deals at the NNPC, which, he says, is coterminous with the oil ministry.