N10bn chartered jets: Crisis hits NNPC
THE last may not have been heard about the controversial chartered private jets reportedly hired on the accounts of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the private use of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke.
The cost of hiring the jets, running into more than N10 billion, which the House of Representatives recently directed its Committee on Public Accounts to probe had degenerated into a major crisis in the corporation.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that two weeks ago, two top management staff of the NNPC were removed, while the Executive Director Legal Services of the corporation, Mr Tony Maduchi, was fired on Monday.
His removal was said not to be unconnected with the fear that he might give useful information to Public Accounts Committee of the House probing the private jets scandal.
This is coming just as it was learnt that the top management staff of the corporation, including its Group Managing Director, Mr Andrew Yakubu, were said to be panicky over the memo sent to the corporation dated March 26 by the Public Accounts Committee, in which the GMD was asked to state in writing all he knew about the private jets.
It was also learnt that as of press time, the minister, as well as the corporation, were yet to respond to the memo sent to them by the committee, despite the one week ultimatum given to them and other agencies involved in the deal to provide the the necessary information to enable it to commence its work.
A member of the committee told the Nigerian Tribune in Abuja on Tuesday that the committee, which was expected to be rounding off its assignment by now, was yet to commence the public hearing ordered by the House, as the minister and the NNPC were yet to respond to the memo sent to them on the matter, while one of the operators of the private jets was said to have fled the country since the matter became public knowledge.
It was also gathered that pressures were also being mounted on the NNPC to provide a legal agreement that would make it solely responsible for all the aircraft charter transactions and provide a suitable defence before the committee, while some of the officials of the corporation were said not to be in support.
Though the chairman of the committee, Honourable Solomon Adeola Olamilekan, was not available for comment on Tuesday, a member of the committee told the Nigerian Tribune in confidence that there were deliberate efforts from certain quarters to frustrate the probe of the deal.
“We are aware of steps being taken to prevent the committee from carrying out its assignment. Why the removal of the Director of the Legal Services of the NNPC at this point in time? The corporation, and the minister must come before the committee to explain their roles in the deal to all Nigerians. We as lawmakers will use all the constitutional powers we have to get to the the roots of the matter,” the member declared.
Reps say NNPC in debt crises
The House of Representatives on Tuesday indicated that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is presently in a serious debt crises, and consequently approved the proposed $1.56 billion forward sale agreement loan for the corporation.
However, the House Minority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila with some opposition lawmakers, however, protested that there was no rationale for approving the $1.56 billion for the NNPC in view of the unremitted crude sale revenue reported at $49.8 billion and later $10.8 billion after reconciliation.
The approval was sequel to report presented by joint House Committees of Petroleum Resources(Upstream), Petroleum(Downstream), Loans and Debts, and Justice headed by Upstream Chairman, Hon. Ajibola Muraina on the proposed borrowing plan of the corporation.
To this end, the House passed the recommendations of the panel, directing the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and NNPC to forthwith forward details of the composition and structure of the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) to appropriate committees of the National Assembly.
The House also advised that, “The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should, in conjunction with various stakeholders, develop a roadmap for offsetting ?it’s huge indebtedness”.
The House also counselled that “there is a need to streamline operations within the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) to eliminate waste, increase operational efficiencies and offer more degree of transparency.”
The House also maintained that, “ in the event where gaps exist in the operations of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), they should be addressed with a view to paving way for alternative and or complimentary solutions to salvaging the debt crises of the NNPC.”
The House equally resolved that,”alternative means of boosting the revenue of NNPC should be exploited as enumerated in this report and that NNPC should formally brief the appropriate Committees of the National Assembly before concluding the 2nd tranche of the forward sale agreement being contemplated”.
The report was considered by a Committee of the Whole presided over by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.
Senate Committee writes NNPC
The Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) appears to have joined efforts to probe the alleged use of N10 billion for aircraft chatter by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Allison-Madueke, following the revelations that the committee has asked the Nigerian NNPC for details of the expenditure.
A letter dated April 4, 2014 by the clerk to the committee, Mr Nkem Anthony and directed to the GMD of the NNPC, Mr Yakubu, asked the corporation to immediately furnish the committee with details of all expenditure on aircraft lease agreements.
The letter also requested for details of volumes of oil sales by the NNPC.
The committee demanded that the NNPC furnish it with details of funds expended on aircraft purchases, hiring and maintenance in the last two years, as well as the contract papers in respect of lease or purchase of aircraft.
Other requests by the committee included that the NNPC supply (1) detailed record of the volumes and sales of all crude oil and products
(2) detailed record of the volumes of crude oil received as part of the crude swap arrangement by local refineries including (a) quantity used locally and (b) quantity swapped. (3) details of kerosene importation and distribution (4) details of the implementation and distribution
(5) details of the number and management of aircraft in the corporation’s fleet; both chartered and purchased (6) issues surrounding the Turn Around Maintenance and or rehabilitation of refineries as well as (7) supply and distribution of petroleum products and ancillary issues.
The April 4 letter read in part: “I am directed to refer you to the committee’s several letters of invitation to meet win the committee and requests to furnish the committee with information relating to the activities of your corporation since October 2013.
“I am to draw your attention to the fact that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, statutorily empowers the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and by extension, its committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to oversight the activities of the NNPC and its subsidiary refinery companies.
“I am to further express the committee’s dissatisfaction with the conduct of the management of the NNPC, especially its seeming disrespect and disregard of the committee’s invitations and requests for information and data relating to the activities of the corporation and its refinery companies.
“Also, in view of the inability and or unpreparedness of your officials to adequately respond to questions at the committee’s meeting of Tuesday and Wednesday, 1st and 2nd April, 2014, the committee resolved to further invite the Group Managing Director (PPMC), the Group Executive Director (R&P), and the Managing Directors of all the nation’s refineries to a meeting on Tuesday, April 8.”
There was a snap on Tuesday, however, as the NNPC refused to show up with the details requested.
A source however said that the meeting had been rescheduled.