05 March 2014, Abuja – The Petroleum Ministry on Tuesday, tried in vain to convince the Senate Committee on Gas on how it spent N500m it received in 2013 for the sensitisation of Nigerians on the Petroleum Industry Bill.
There was a mild drama when the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. Danaladi Kifasi, who represented the minister, Mrs. Dezani Alison-Madueke, at the 2014 budget defence in the Senate, could not explain details of the expenditure because he was new to the ministry.
Kifasi was posted to the ministry in August last year.
He explained that from the records he met at the ministry, the N500m was expended on radio and television jingles, newspaper advertisements and monitoring vehicles among others without providing the details.
A member of the committee, Senator Bello Tukur, who raised the issue, wondered the involvement of the ministry in the PIB campaign in view of the fact that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has been the parastatal driving the bill.
The Permanent Secretary also admitted before the committee that there were budgetary allocations to the ministry for the development of gas infrastructure even when the ministry lacks the necessary technical manpower and capacity to execute such projects.
About $3.16bn was allocated to the ministry for capital projects for gas infrastructure in the 2013 budget, out of which $1.7bn was released to it.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Nkechi Nwogu, demanded to know the progress made by the ministry in the area of gas infrastructure development.
She asked, “Somebody should tell this committee what you did in the area of gas infrastructure and development in 2013.”
Kifasi said, “On the part of the ministry, absolutely nothing was done on gas infrastructure development because we do not have the technical capacity to go into the construction of gas pipelines.
Meanwhile, the ministry’s Director, Public Relations and Press, Mr. Kingsley Agha, said the ministry was not given the opportunity to explain the details of the expenditure.
He said there were evidence all over the country that the fund was used for the mounting of billboards in strategic locations in the major cities of the country as well as proof that part of the funds were used for radio and television campaigns.
– The Punch