Ribadu’s report: A mountain out of a mole hill

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LEADER after leader, nobody gave a damn (that word again) about the hen that was laying the golden eggs.

Then two years ago by providence, God sent a man that lives near the chicken and the golden eggs, a man that wears the shoe (no pun intended) and should know where it pinches. Then all hell broke loose.

Corruption became quadrupled. Oil subsidy scam became a way of life. In a year 2.7 trillion Naira was wasted as oil subsidy. We shouted blue murder. We called Jonathan names. We said crucify him. Surprisingly, out of character for a Nigerian leader he listened. Then through the Minister of Petroleum he set up three committees. 1, Petroleum Revenue Task Force chaired by MallamNuhuRibadu.

2, KaluIdikaKalu’s committee on Refineries and Turn Around Maintenance (TAM).

3, Special Task Force on corporate Governance and Controls in NNPC led by Dotun Sulaiman.

We would recall that the President had earlier set up the AigImoukhuede committee on subsidy payment.

When the Petroleum Minister Mrs. Dieziani Alison -Madueke was setting up Ribadu’s panel, she said it was to enhance probity and accountability in the operation of the Petroleum Industry.

The Task Force was also charged with the responsibilities of helping Nigeria to determine and verify all Petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (taxes, royalties etc.) due and payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria and to take all necessary steps to collect all debts among others.

Then I remembered my Professor friend again and the analogy he drew when he said: “You do not send your enemy to catch your friends. You do not put a cat among the pigeons”. Sending Ribadu against the oil thieves was exactly what Jonathan did. The Prof paused and reflected and said with that singular behaviour he was beginning to believe that the President actually wanted to fight corruption.

Remember Ribadu contested against the President in the last election. Remember Ribadu refused a 15 million dollars bribe. Remember Ribadu arrested and prosecuted some governors even if he was selective at least nobody convicted has complained. So the President appointing Ribadu was like shooting himself on the legs. Ribadu takes no prisoners.

However what came as a surprise to Nigerians was the outcome of his (Ribadu‘s) committee‘s assignment. The bungling of the report as it were. We have come to learn that the final report submitted to the President was markedly different from the report leaked to the Press. Also the executive summary of both reports differ. Therein lies the controversy.

When my friend Kingsley Onyekaba in USA, immediately sees this bye-line, he would think I have gone bonkers. We made a vow a year ago, never to discuss corruption in Nigeria, oil subsidy, turn around maintenance (TAM) and the big masquerade NNPC. I know he will say they’ve settled him, serves him right, shame on him, he will stew in his own juice blablabla. I wouldn’t blame him.

This is not a civic responsibility; this is not even a crusade. I am neither supporting the Government nor am I an anti-corruption activist. I am struggling to remain sane. The NNPC waters have been so muddled that the resulting cacophony has left everybody talking at the same time and nobody is listening.

I met one Professor and asked him what he thought of the Ribadu’s Committee and her report. The Prof asked “have you watched ‘Thunder ball’ by James Bond” I stupidly said yes, then he added, “this is an oil Thunder ball” and left, I became more confused.

Okay let me begin from the beginning: FEMI OREBE a very reputable columnist in Nigerian Nation Newspaper had a screaming headline “NNPC is a cesspool of corruption” I agree with him into to. Only he did not state when the corruption began, whether it came with the present government, or has been there long before now.

Femi Orebe quoted Dr. Christopher Kolade in his lecture on “ POSSESSORS AT THE GATE’ which he gave as guest lecturer at the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of Obafemi Awolowo University and I quote “In Nigeria we possess a land that has been created by Almighty God, and into which He has poured endowment of such superior quality that its human occupants should have no difficulty accessing the basic requirements for living a reasonable good life.

The resources of this nation he wrote, to which human beings have added insignificant value,are more than enough to take good care of our true needs and that we can earn the respect of others through our performance rather than by how much wealth we display. As soon as man begins to look for ways of feeding his greed he enters a territory of discomfort.

Whenever man tries to eat more than his system requires, that is whenever man tries to acquire more material wealth than one needs merely adds to his trouble”. Thank you Femi.

You see what I mean; oil was discovered in Oloibiri in the present Rivers State of Nigeria in 1958. Since then, all wealth generated has been plundered and squandered.

Many Nigerians have continued to argue for and against the manner which the committee handled the “final Report” or is it “Final draft”. Many questions have been raised about procedures, not following the terms of reference and above all non-verification of figures.Therefore the report is inconclusive.

For instance, in paragraph 4 of the covering letter, a caveat was literally handed down to government, to look into the non-verified numbers provided therein. The Nigeria LNG in a rejoinder accused the Task Force of not even visiting the company in the course of its work.

Part of rejoinder read: “The task force neither met with NLNG management nor  visited   the company in the course of its work. One would have taken for granted that the fact finding committee would get the view of all companies and stakeholders on relevant issues for clarifications on any of the assumed findings before rushing off to have the report leaked to the international press, this leaves us wondering the purpose of the inquiry”.

Up until now this rejoinder has not been disputed. My question becomes, why would the report be submitted uncompleted? It is therefore my considered opinion that the leaked report which contained some damning conclusions was meant to create mischief. Otherwise, same report ought to have been submitted to the President.

So I am sure the President knows that coming from the oil region, posterity will not forgive him if he  allows the massive looting in the oil sector to continue. His people want good roads,clean water, good schools, good health centres, good houses etc.

My mind tells me that the President wants to behave like a landlord who will not allow tenants destroy his property, because all tenants are transitory. You may call it ironical attitude by the President but something tells me that he wants to achieve maximum benefit from the oil sector by sanitising it.

He knows that more money will accrue to his oil producing States for development. He will not want to destroy the opportunity.

So now let us begin from today to watch and observe and see what the President does with Ribadu’s report.

Mr.  CHIDIEBERE OGBU, a medical doctor, wrote from Owerri, Imo State.

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