Mallam Nuhu Ribadu
The Presidency Thursday faulted the Mallam Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force report, stating that the report was against the terms of reference issued to the committee, when it was inaugurated in the wake of the January 1, 2012 increase in the price of petroleum products.
This was disclosed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, while briefing journalists, over the controversy that trailed the committee’s report that was submitted last week.
He pointed out the fourth paragraph signed by Ribadu and the secretary, Olasupo Shasore (SAN), which said the content of the report was not verified, as against the terms of reference of the committee that mandated it to consult with stakeholders and verify all claims.
According to him, one of the major terms of reference of the committee was “to work with consultants and experts to determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (taxes, royalties, among others) due and payable to the Federal Government” but this aspect of the committee assignment was left undone.
He said: “Unfortunately and most regrettably, this paramount duty of the PRSTF committee could not be accomplished as stated in paragraph four of the covering signed by chairman Ribadu and Secretary of the committee.
Paragraph four of the covering letter read: “The data used in this report was presented by various stakeholders who made submissions to the Task Force of our assignment at various dates, which have been disclosed in relevant sections of the report. Due to the time frame of the assignment, some of the data used could not be independently verified and the task force recommends that the government should conduct such necessary verifications and reconciliations.”
Okupe, who gave an instance with the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) that was indicted by the Ribadu committee, but still claimed they were not consulted, said: “It was not fair to run down an organisation like NLNG down with its over $100 billion valued assets.”
The presidential aide, who defended the intention of President Goodluck Jonathan, said the Ribadu committee was inaugurated to do a holistic investigation into the intransigent challenges of the oil and gas industry in the past 10 years but unfortunately the committee has passed the job of verifications and reconciliation back to the Federal Government.
He said the implication of paragraph four of the covering letter of the Ribadu committee was that the committee had issued a disclaimer to its own report which will now make it “impossible under our laws to indict or punish anybody except and until the federal government fully verifies and reconciles the facts as recommended by the committee in its submission to the government.”
Okupe, however, assured Nigerians that all the work to be done to rectify the incompleteness of the document would be done, with a White Paper issued, while the recommendations would be fully implemented.
He further condemned the leakage of the report to Reuters and other international news media, stressing that the Federal Government would only work with the report that was officially submitted to it by the task force.