By Oscarline ONWUEMENYI
ABUJA – The former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu has said he was prepared to do his best to flush out unscrupulous operators in the nation’s oil and gas industry.
He made the statement on Tuesday during the inauguration of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, in Abuja.
Ribadu, who chairs the newly-formed task force to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of oil and gas revenues in the country, noted that so many Nigerians had suffered needlessly due to the corruption in the industry.
According to him, “Nigeria is today at a crossroad, we are at a junction. We understand the constitution of this task force as part of the effort to connect the public and the administration to newer levels of accountability.
“If you ask the average Nigerian to assess the conduct of operations in the oil and gas industry, many will intuitively put it down to between poor and appalling.”
He pointed out that the moral terrain of the extractive industry has always been defined by the issues of value and appraisal, adding that the concept of ‘resource curse’ was not invented in abstraction.
“The task, however, is that in the effort to re-invent our country, we must reach to the elevated moral standards of public conduct that brings value to our people and the broader Nigerian people of citizens who seek nothing other than a desire for a country defined by higher ethics and noble norms.
“Let me assure the Minister, President Jonathan, and all Nigerians that we shall work diligently to meet the expectations of Nigerians. We shall seek to promote a new ethics by promoting values that support a new dawn of business conduct in the sector, so that those who play by the rules will enjoy all the best support, and the unscrupulous players will get the red card.”
Ribadu further warned operators that do not play by the rules that “the game is over.”
He acknowledge that part of the work of the task force as “helping to design a national memorandum for promoting norms of fairness in the business of an important industry in the life of our national economy, which can only be a win-win scenario for the Nigerian oil and gas industry, the operators and the international community.”
He added, “Part of the challenge of moving forward and breaking new grounds is to understand the imperatives of constantly renewing faith with our fellow citizens by empowering them with values of public accountability and responsibility.
“It is also by laying down communication platforms that strengthen their decision making processes in a bid to make governance more transparent and certainly more accountable. I must say how honoured we are by this national call, and how prepared we are to do our best to make a success of this assignment.”
The former anti-graft czar appealed to Nigerians with information that will make the work of the task force successful to see it as a moral duty to provide such information, adding that, “we want Nigerians to participate throughout this process. It is going to be an open and transparent process and we encourage Nigerians to participate.”
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alsion-Madueke, in her remarks earlier stressed the “various competences and moral texture that members of the task force bring to the table in this immensely important national assignment.
“I must reinforce the enormous professional qualities of the men and women that have signed up to do this job and bring value and balance to the nation in this life-line sector of our economy, that has been the basis of so much contention and needless grief for many Nigerians.
The Minister noted that the establishment of the task force was a major step in government’s efforts to reform and restructure the oil and gas industry by creating more accountability and judicious management of resources from the industry.
According to her, “Our journey to transformation is irreversible. Our mission is to transform the Nigerian petroleum industry, and in doing so to change the way that business is currently done within the sector. Our purpose is to enhance the commercial and technical viability of the sector, inculcating full transparency and accountability, thereby ensuring value for money for the people of Nigeria.”
The minister thanked the members for accepting to serve on the committee, pointing out that some of them have sacrificed so much to be part of the process.
The Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force is charged with the following terms of reference including working with consultants and experts to determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (taxes, royalties and levies) due and payable to the federal government, as well as to work with world-class consultants to integrate systems and technology across the production chain to determine and monitor crude oil production and exports, ensuring at all times the integrity of payments to the Federal government.