02 May 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – Nigeria’s oil industry workers have called for a deeper probe of the fraud in the country’s fuel subsidy regime, unravelled by the recent House of Representatives investigations.
President of the National Union of Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Igwe Achese, who made the call on behalf of the union, spoke specifally against those he described as ‘briefcase carriers’ who had turned themselves into importers of petroleum products.
Achese, who spoke at an interactive session in Lagos, maintained that the House of Representatives committee that probed the fuel subsidy regime did not do a thorough job before submitting its report.
He stated, for instance, that the committee “did not take the pains to visit the depots, refineries and other agencies and institutions to actually verify and access the claims by oil marketers as well as institutions saddled with the responsibility of regulating operations in the oil and gas industry”.
While condemning the use of briefcase carriers for importation of petroleum products, he maintained that the high level of corruption and rot in the system were responsible for the challenges in the sector.
The NUPENG president called for the immediate probe of Ahmadu Ali, former chairman of the board of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), under whose leadership, he said, a lot of fraud was perpetrated in the industry.
According to him, the union was carefully watching the Federal Government with keen interest and would not allow the perpetrators of fraud in the subsidy issue get away with it.
Hesaid: “In its usual manner as a country, good reports would be made in Nigeria; and before you know it, the report would be swept under the carpet. This time around, we hope and believe that Government would sit up and take up the challenges of this issue of corruption in the oil subsidy.
“While appreciating the lower chamber of the National Assembly for the bold step taken to prove and investigate oil subsidy issues, we will still want to go further by letting them know that they are yet to do a thorough job for us.
“We are so much interested in this issue that they have to do a thorough job; we have also read from the media that there are various counter-claims and reactions from some of the companies mentioned to make refunds to the Federal Government on illegal payment of subsidy to them or double standard withdrawal.
“The truth remains, if NNPC claims that it did not make any double standard withdrawal, then who collected such money and in what name did they collect it? How was this money being disbursed? These are the key questions we must find out, if we must get to the roots of this issue of subsidy fraud.”