Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State
By Muhammad Bello
Against the backdrop of the face-off between some indicted Oil Marketers and Transporters (OM&T) over their alleged fraud in the use of the fuel subsidy funds made available to them by the federal government, indications surfaced Thursday that some of them have started refunding the money.
On Wednesday, there were unsubstantiated reports that the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Association (NUPENG) was compromised by the alleged subsidy fraudsters.
The OM&Ts allegedly sourced and distributed the sum of N1 billion to NUPENG and the National Association of Tanker Drivers, to encourage them to help it frustrate the attempt by government to bring them to book over the criminal role they played in the grave infractions they committed.
In the last couple of days the oil marketers conglomerate under the auspices of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMA), the Jetty and Petroleum Tank Farm Owners of Nigeria (JEPTFON) and the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) have been threatening to shut down their facilities if the federal government continues to delay the payment of outstanding subsidy entitlements to the claimants.
This action, although still at the level of a threat, has affected the supply and distribution of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and some parts of Kogi and Niger states thus creating artificial scarcity of the product.
But a slight ray of hope emerged on the horizon Thursday as the apex government indicated that some of the indicted oil marketers, whose names were not disclosed have started paying back what they usurped abinitio.
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, who briefed State House correspondents after NEC, said: “From the report we got today some have started refunding. It is a serious case that people were paid for vessels that were not anywhere near the Nigerian waters. And I think when Federal Government does a thing that is courageous and right, they should be encouraged and can at least give them the courage to do more.
"So, we support the Federal Government in the effort to clean up the entire value chain and process of petroleum industry; they have our full support," Obi said.
The governors, who rose from the meeting chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo, insisted that they supported the move by the federal government to recover N400 billion that had been fraudulently claimed as subsidy by oil marketers.
Obi, who was with his colleagues from Kaduna Patrick Yakowa, Akwa Ibom; Godswil Akpabio and Kano; Rabiu Kwakwanso, admonished Nigerians to support the federal government in recovering the funds.
The AIG Imokuhede led Presidential Committee on Verification of subsidy claims had indicted no fewer than 25 companies some of whom are sons of prominent Nigerians already being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
NEC also considered a presentation by the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku on the planned non-partisan Good Governance Publicity Tour being jointly organised by his Ministry and the National Planning Commission.
Realising that the tour is meant to monitor, evaluate and showcase Federal and States projects across the six geopolitical zones, the council deemed it worthwhile and approved it, Obi explained, stating that the Governors’ Forum has been directed to set up a committee that will meet with the Federal Ministry of Information and National Planning Commission to review the logistics for the tour and agree on the date of commencement.
On the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) youth engagement and employment initiative, the Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy/Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala briefed NEC on the progress being made by and endorsed the plan to launch the programme in the states to sensitise the people on the processes of job selection and payment to beneficiaries, beginning from September 06, 2012.