25 August 2015, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday expressed great disappointment with the way Nigeria’s oil industry has been run since he left office as Petroleum Minister and Military Head of State in 1985.
He said those who ruled the country between then and now allowed infrastructure, such as the nation’s refineries, to collapse in order to give their cronies the leeway to steal by importing refined petroleum products.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President spoke during a meeting he had with a delegation of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Those who have ruled the country between 1985 and now are Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.); Chief Ernest Shonekan; late Gen. Sani Abacha; Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar; Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; late President Umar Yar’Adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Buhari blamed these past administrations for the current situation in which Nigeria is forced to spend billions of Naira annually on alleged subsidies for petroleum products.
He said the increase in petroleum subsidy payments over recent years was due to the deliberate neglect of the nation’s refineries, oil pipelines and other related infrastructure to allow the importation of petroleum products and corruption to thrive.
He said he was convinced that if the development of the country’s domestic refining capacity and petroleum products distribution network had kept pace with national demand, there would not have been any need for the huge subsidies currently being paid to importers.
“They (past administrations) allowed the infrastructure to collapse so that their cronies can steal by bringing in refined products from overseas,” Shehu quoted the President as saying.
He therefore urged the chairman and members of the RMAFC, who availed him of their view on petroleum subsidy payments, to go back to the drawing board and come up with more humane proposals to rescue ordinary Nigerians from what he described as the “wicked manipulation” of the country’s oil industry by corrupt operators.
The President also warned that severe sanctions would be visited on any individual or organisation that violates his directive on the payment of all national revenue into the Federation Account.
The President said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Nigerian Ports Authority and other MDAs which previously relied on the laws establishing them to retain all or part of revenues collected by them, did so illegally and must now comply with the Nigerian Constitution by paying all revenues to the Federation Account.
Buhari was also said to have chided the RMAFC for approving what he called “excessive remunerations” for some political office holders.
He therefore urged the delegation to seek a proper interpretation of the commission’s powers and address the public outcry against the unreasonably high payments.