Federal Government, yesterday, attributed the delay in moving against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to efforts being made to establish the magnitude of fraud and inefficiencies in the corporation and in the oil and gas industry over the last couple of years.
Speaking in an interview on the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA’s, ‘Good Morning Nigeria,’ programme, President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed that the government was already working with some individuals that are helping it to track the destination of stolen crude oil and the accounts the proceeds were paid into.
He also reassured during the interview that only patriotic, decent and experienced Nigerians would be appointed as ministers in his government even as he lamented the state of the Air Force, which according to him could not support ground troops in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists due to lack of serviceable equipment.He said: “Frankly, I read the stories too that I intend to break up the NNPC. I think the best way to go about it is to establish the fact of the magnitude of the inefficient way the NNPC conducted itself. When we do that we will be on a higher moral ground to carry out whatever recommendations that have been made to us.”
He maintained that the NNPC has lost track of the number of accounts it had, adding that the government was discreetly working with some Nigerians to ensure that perpetrators of fraud in the oil and gas sector were brought to book.
“We have to maintain high confidentiality so that we do not put at risk some of the Nigerians that are helping us to trace some of the destinations of this stolen crude and then the accounts where they are being paid into instead of the Federal Government account.
“I do not think the NNPC knows how many accounts are outside there, which payments are being made for Nigerian crude which is really an outright theft. The money we want to intercept which have been going on for a number of years, a lot of Nigerians will not comprehend,” he explained.
Offshore processing agreements
Buhari lamented the fact that the crude oil swap programme and offshore processing agreements, OPA, have over the years been used to defraud the country, stating also that a number of operators in the oil and gas industry displayed lack of conscience and love for the country.
He said: “These individuals have refineries all over the world. The swapping is tied into a major killing ground for corrupt officials with an average evil to loot the country’s crude, work out how much they can bring back to us, and we pay for the transportation and for the refining.
‘The swapping programme is such a dishonest way through which Nigeria is consistently losing on daily basis, millions of dollars. I think the people who have been operating in the industry, a lot of them have displayed lack of conscience and patriotism, and only God knows the amount of damage their actions have inflicted on Nigeria.”
He expressed optimism that the United States and other European countries are willing to cooperate with Nigeria in repatriating funds that are proceeds of corruption and stolen crude.
However, he stated that the Federal Government is working to ensure that it complied with the laws of these countries and provide them with the needed documents that will help expedite the repatriation.
He said: “These countries are willing. I have also said that we have to comply with their system; that we have to get the documents, especially the shipping documents, and how we load from our terminals, their destinations. It is important to note that some of them change the crude and the destinations in the high seas and then change the account it needs to be paid into. Instead of the Federal Government account, they are paid into individual accounts.
“The cooperation we need is that once we get hold of the shipping documents and we are lucky to trace them out to the countries where they sold the crude and which account it goes into and we submit the evidence in terms of loading, in terms of payments being paid into accounts other than the Federal Government account.
“Once we do that, we are very willing to make sure that those accounts are frozen and the money repatriated to Nigeria. It is not an easy process, but I assure you that we are working very hard. We cannot say that we wait until everything is intact before we let you know. Whatever we are able to get in the following months or a couple of months, we will bring it out for Nigerians to know, with facts in our hands and prosecution started against those who perpetrated the unpatriotic action against Nigeria for so many years.”
Appointment of ministers
On the appointment of ministers, President Buhari reassured that only patriotic, decent and experienced Nigerians would be appointed as ministers in his government.
He said: “From what I have seen so far, we need really patriotic Nigerians — Nigerians that can work very hard, knowledgeable, experienced and committed Nigerians to be in charge of ministries.
“A lot of the institutions of Nigeria — important institutions were compromised. Everybody was for himself and God for all of us; it’s most unfortunate.
“We have the people, educated people, experienced people but everybody seemed to be working for himself — how much he could get as quickly as possible.
“We have to look for technocrats and we have to look for politicians and certainly we have to look for decent people in these classes to give them the responsibility of being in charge of ministries and important parastatals (agencies).”
Lamenting the state of the Air Force, Buhari said, “Our case is lack of capacity and effective Air Force. We don’t have trained personnel. The Air Force is virtually non-existent. The fixed-wing aircraft are not very serviceable. The helicopters are not serviceable and they are too few.
We need the Air Force to conduct reconnaissance and support the ground troops. The arrangement made by the former government will soon expire. We have made this clear to the Americans and we have made it clear to G7 and we need their cooperation.”
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Culled from Vanguardngr. Com