28 April 2015, Abuja – The presidency and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, said they were ready for any probe the incoming administration of President-elect, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) would undertake.
The Presidency was responding to Buhari’s resolve to probe the reported Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) missing $20 billion and allegations by the All Progressives Congress (APC) of last-minute looting of the treasury and rash actions by the outgoing government. It said the party would probe activities of the government especially after the March 28 presidential polls.
This is coming as a host of eminent Nigerians threw their weight behind Buhari’s plan to probe the NNPC.
Former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor and now Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, was suspended by President Jonathan last year after he alleged that the NNPC failed to remit more than $20 billion of oil revenue to the government.
Addressing State House correspondents, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, said the release of the report was to put to rest any doubt about government’s transparency in the oil sector.
According to Abati, the incoming administration of Buhari is free to review all actions and policies of the President Jonathan administration, including revenues and expenditure on projects.
Abati said the President’s decision to order the release of the audit report was to demonstrate that he had noting to hide.
Abati said since President Jonathan also reviewed policies of his predecessors on assumption of office for better understanding and further actions, General Buhari was free to review the President’s policies.
He explained that President Jonathan was deeply concerned by the continuing suggestions that his administration still has anything to hide about the unproven allegation that about $20 billion is unaccounted for by the NNPC during his tenure.
“As Alhaji Lai Mohammed threatened in his statement, the incoming administration will be perfectly within its rights to review all actions of the present government as it may deem fit…To lay the matter to rest, President Jonathan in line with Section 7(2) of the NNPC Act, has directed that the full report of the PWC Forensic Audit of the NNPC accounts be released immediately to the public so that all Nigerians will be properly informed on the matter,” he said.
On allegations by the APC spokesman that looting of the national treasury by Ministries, Department and Agencies, was ongoing, the Presidential spokesman said: “We also consider as most unfortunate and uncharitable, the suggestion by Alhaji Mohammed that the Jonathan Administration is trying to “tie the hands” of the incoming government merely by continuing to discharge its constitutional responsibilities until the end of its tenure.
“The Jonathan Administration which continues to do its best to ensure a smooth and peaceful handover of power to the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, deeply regrets the unfairness and combative frame of mind reflected in Alhaji Mohammed’s statement. President Jonathan has done his best in the past five years to discharge his constitutional responsibilities for good governance and effective leadership of the nation.
“Without any prejudice whatsoever to the freedom of the incoming administration to do as it pleases, within the confines of extant laws when it assumes office, the Jonathan Administration will continue to discharge its responsibility to govern until May 29, 2015. President Jonathan will also never authorise any attempt to create any problems for the incoming administration as the APC spokesperson, ought to know that the outcome of the March 28 presidential elections does not imply a cessation of governance, unjustly alleges,” he said.
Eminent Nigerians back probe
The issue elicited support from a host of eminent Nigerians, yesterday, who said that the decision to probe the NNPC is in order.
Probe in order —Etiebet
Former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Don Etiebet said: “I believe the probe will be very much in order. The subject matter has been very controversial in the public domain and a succeeding government, acting in the public interest, has every right to go into it to put the records straight for posterity’s sake. If the incoming government refused to probe the NNPC, it can be accused of a cover-up as the subject matter cannot just go away or be forgotten like that.”
We’re not afraid of probe —PDP
The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said yesterday that the party was not in any way afraid of the planned probe of alleged missing $20 billion from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC by the President- elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, retd.
In a text message to Vanguard yesterday, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh who noted that the probe was a welcome development, however warned that as a party, it would resist any witch-hunt or selective probe, adding that there must be no sacred cows.
He said, “ PDP is not afraid of probe, but we would resist any witch-hunt and any probe that is selective or discriminatory.”
Buhari should be supported on probe —Tsav
Also speaking, a retired Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, said: ‘’The money allegedly missing in NNPC account is not a small money. It is big and should be a matter of concern to responsible and responsive governments, including all patriotic Nigerians. But this seems not to be the case here. The person who reported the alleged missing funds, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was harassed and intimidated. He was suspended and his passport impounded. He was hounded for arrest, all in attempts to silence him. I support the President-elect’s desire to do so when he assumes office. This move will provide Nigerians the opportunity to know who between the Presidency and Sanusi is saying the truth. I support Buhari on this. I support the probe.’’
Buhari should go beyond probing NNPC —Onyekpere
Executive Director of the Centre for Social Justice, Mr. Eze Onyekpere, described the decision to probe the $20 billion allegation against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, as a welcome development but urged the incoming President Buhari administration to go beyond the probe to restructure the organization.
According to him, the restructuring of the NNPC remains the only way to genuinely clean up the system and restore public confidence in the oil and gas sector of the nation’s economy.
Onyekpere pointed out that separating the role of the regulator from that of an active industry player was critical to cleaning up the NNPC, in line with the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB.
His words, “It is a welcome development that the President-Elect would upon the assumption of office probe the purportedly missing $20 billion. This will help to arrive at the veracity and truth of the allegation, expose and punish any culprit and restore public confidence in the oil and gas industry.
“However, what the sector needs is beyond a probe; it is about a fundamental restructuring that will separate the regulator from being an active player, introduce private sector efficiency and pave the way for investors to finance big ticket and long term transactions and projects in the oil and gas industry.
“It is a positive process of liberalization that creates opportunities for Nigerians and their friends to be in a win-win situation and this will untie the binding constraints on Nigeria’s development. This will be a PIB type of reform that addresses fundamental issues in the sector without creating new bottlenecks and opportunities for rent-seeking by government agencies and functionaries.
David-West, Amao endorse probe
Former Minister of Petroleum, Tam David-West, is fully in support of the probe. He is of the opinion that the perpetrators, if caught, should be severely punished.
He said: “I am supportive of the decision by the president-elect to probe the NNPC missing fund, because he will not close his eyes and see corruption go without adequate punishment.
“This fund is supposedly meant for the welfare of the masses and the development of other sectors of the country that would better the lives of ordinary Nigerians. I vote for life imprisonment for those who are found to be part of such mishap to the country’s economy.’’
However, it is to be noted that the initiative by the president-elect to probe the culprits is not an act to witch-hunt anybody, but is to see that evil is rewarded accordingly by
the law. And as such, if armed robbery is punished, ‘official robbers’ should be given stricter punishment that would pave way for others with such proclivity.”
He maintained that Buhari should ensure that he recovers all controversial money that is stolen from the petroleum industry.