Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said there are no verifiable evidence of underhand dealings in the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as was alleged by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The opposition PDP had alleged massive corruption to the tune of over N9 trillion in the operations of NNPC and urged President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration to clarify on the issues raised.
However, APC said the basis for PDP’s allegation which was a leaked memo from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources in 2017, detailing alleged underhand oil contracts to the tune of N9 trillion at the NNPC and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, has been overtaken by events.
In a statement issued by APC’s acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabene, the party said it is a matter of public knowledge that the author of the memo openly proclaimed that the issues raised in the letter were not on fraud but on governance and suggestions on ways to go about it.
“I think a lot of people got it wrong. People dwell much on issues of sensationalism and leave the main substance,” the minister was quoted as having said.
APC also said that it was clearly stated then by the NNPC in response to the leaked document that apart from the 618km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Corporation (NPDC) production service contracts, all the other transactions mentioned in the memo were not procurement contracts.
Apparently relying on previous explanations given by the Minister of State for Petroleum and the management of NNPC, the ruling party tried to provide explanations on the alleged N9 trillion underhand crude oil transactions.
It said: “The NPDC production service contracts have undergone due process, while the AKK contract had not reached the stage of contract award,” it explained.
Similarly, APC said that NNPC also stated then that for both the Crude Term Contract and the Direct Sale and Direct Purchase (DSDP) agreements, there are no specific values attached to each transaction to warrant the values of $10 billion and $5 billion respectively placed on them in the leaked document.
“Thus it was inappropriate to attach arbitrary values to the shortlists with the aim of classifying the transactions as contracts. They are merely the short listing of prospective off-takers of crude oil and suppliers of petroleum products under agreed terms,” it said.
While responding to the alleged diversion of crude oil worth N1.1 trillion using 18 unregistered companies, APC said from every indication, the Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of the NNPC has been able to implement reforms which has brought about transparency in sales, marketing and general management of the various grades of Nigeria’s equity crude oil.
Although there was no direct response to the charge of diversion of N1.1 trillion by unregistered firms, APC said the reforms in the sector had ensured a more open and transparent crude oil sales contract awards.
The party said that the reform has enabled the open bid process of customer selection for lifting and purchase of Nigeria’s crude oil grades, emplacement of efficient crude for product import processes, leading to savings of $1 billion in one year as well as the introduction of improved pricing system, which has evolved into a robust and auditable pricing mechanism.
“The reforms have manifested in the now popular public opening of bids for the sales and purchase of Nigerian crude grades in what is known as annual crude term contract.
“As at last check, the Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of the NNPC had achieved 98 per cent automation of all transactions involving the supply, marketing and sale of the various grades and blends of Nigeria’s crude oil across the world,” it stated.
APC said that based on the reform, the NNPC-COMD is able to achieve an end-to-end monitoring of every barrel of crude oil sold in the country, adding that it is “inconceivable that the PDP or anybody could ascribe such patently bogus transaction to NNPC”.
On alleged billions of unremitted revenue from sale of crude for which there have been deadlock at the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), the APC statement said the remittances to the Federation Account have never been flat as asserted.
According to APC, while the provision of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) were based on plans on the assumption of 2.3 million barrels/day (industry wide) and $50 crude oil price, actual production has averaged 1.9 million barrels/day (industry wide) and the average crude oil price has fluctuated between $50-$70.
The statement further said: “Remittances to the federation have been based on actual monthly performance for crude oil production and price as dictated by international market forces.
“The corporation during the FAAC meeting presents relevant data to support amounts remitted to the Federation Account which is verifiable. This increase in price was the major reason for NNPC remittance to the Federation Account in June 2018 despite 400,000 barrels/day below projected production for the month.”
According to the ruling party, going by the current oil sector reforms, it is clear that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has not copied the corrupt template past PDP-led administrations used to criminally siphon oil revenues.
“The oil sector reforms has provided government more revenue to address social and infrastructural needs of the country; is curbing the perennial fuel scarcities; increased private sector participation and resulted remarkable investments in both Refineries and Retails. The country is now poised to achieve self-sufficiency in terms of refining petroleum,” it padded.