By EMMA OVUAKPORIE
ABUJA — PERMANENT Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Danladi Fikasi, yesterday, denied report that his ministry could not explain how the sum of N500million earmarked for the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB campaigns was expended.
Mr. Fikasi, who appeared before the Public Account Committee of the House of Representatives, while answering questions, yesterday, told journalists that”the issue we discussed at the Senate was purely gas matters and that issue was not really discussed.“
When asked how it was published in some papers that the money was spent on adverts and jingles, Fikasi said, ”the chairman only passively asked what concerns PIB with gas matters.”
“I told him the money was meant for campaigns and vehicles to be used to move around to places like North east of Nigeria and we laughed over it.
“What was published in those papers were non-existent in that hearing.”
The ministry further denied the story in a statement by Kingsley Agha Director, Information Press and Public Relations, saying, “the said publication is a total distortion of what transpired at the sitting of the Senate Gas Committee on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
“The Gas Committee chaired by Senator Nkechi Nwaogu, was for budget hearing, dealing with the Ministry’s gas project as can be seen in the name of the Committee.
“The reporters carefully and deliberately ignored the main subject of the sitting and delved into a subject the Committee only mentioned in passing.
“On the report disparaging the character and person of the Permanent Secretary, Danladi Kifasi as being incompetent to explain the Ministry’s Budget, what happened was that the Permanent Secretary had informed the Committee that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources did not implement any gas project because they lack the expertise to carry the construction works hence his decision to transfer the Vote to the NNPC where the necessary expertise is domiciled.
“At this point, the Committee at the instance of the Permanent Secretary, invited Mr. Ige, the Executive Director Gas, NNPC to speak.
“In his presentation, the Executive Director, Gas NNNPC, Mr. Ige was commended by the Committee for the huge success registered in the Gas Sector. Mr. Ige not only gave time lines but unveiled the various PPP arrangements put in place to save government from the huge capital inflow required in the gas sector.
“The reporters ignored this laudable presentation and capitalized on an aside – — a one line comment that came from the Chairman who wanted to know the full meaning of PIB. The Permanent Secretary explained that the PIB stands for the Petroleum Industry Bill and that the Vote allocated to this programme is for sensitization, advocacy in the print and electronic media as well as billboards and purchase of vehicles.
“He jokingly added that these vehicles can even convey the distinguished Senators to the North East part of the country. A joke the Vice Chairman of the Committee chuckled at and asked the Permanent Secretary why he was particular about the North East and the Permanent Secretary responded that he is from that part of the country.
“That ended all references and discussions on the PIB. Now where did these reporters hear of the misappropriation of the N500 million and at what point in that meeting was the Permanent Secretary described as incompetent to defend the budgetary allocation of the Ministry.