15th December, 2011
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has not ceased to amaze Nigerians. What with the revelations coming out from the senate probe of government parastatals.
It is disheartening to note that such a parastatal, which should be above board because of its importance to the government and the people of the country, is enmeshed in corrupt practices and other shady deals that have gone beyond description.
To show the level of the hide-and-seek game the corporation and its officials have been playing with the country, senators recently expressed shock when the NNPC Group Managing Director, Austin Oniwon, could not account for the whereabouts of 65,000 barrels out of an official allocation of 445,000 barrels per day worth about N9.8 billion.
Oniwon had told the senators that NNPC gets 445,000 of crude per day of which 90,000 per day and 80,000 were refined at the Warri and Port-Harcourt refineries, respectively.
He said 60,000 barrels per day of crude were sent to the refinery in Abidjan and imported into Nigeria while 150,000 was swapped between Ducoil, a subsidiary of NNPC and Trafigura, a UK-based oil company.
The NNPC has also been accused of illegally operating several accounts and not making itself available for scrutiny. For many years, it is noteworthy that the accounts of NNPC have not been audited and the government had turned a blind eye to its activities.
A corporation that is supposed to be the financial milk factory of the nation has become a hydra-headed monster,Â used by unscrupulous leaders to rip off the country.
Under NNPC watch, the current administration enriched those it described as a cabal with N1.3 trillion of fuel subsidy. While the few fed fat on the country, majority of Nigerians continued to groan under the yoke of poverty.
As thick as these allegations are, however, President Goodluck Jonathan has failed to display exemplary leadership. Instead of seeking reparations from these privileged few, the president has decided to increase the burden of the masses by removing subsidy on petrol.
The role played by the NNPC officials in the exploitation of Nigerians through unethical practices should not be overlooked.
Nigerians want to know what happened to the missing 60,000 barrels of crude oil daily unaccounted for by the NNPC.
Officials of the NNPC should tell Nigerians why the corporration is operating an off-shore account and tell us those controlling it? We also want to know the reason behind the establishment of Duke oil? The officials should also shed more light on distressed crude and why it is always greatly discounted at destination point and who benefits from it?
As the senate continues its probe of the corporation, these questions must be answered for the nation to take stock of its losses.
Officials of the corporation must be asked why they kept secret bank accounts off shore.
It is our hope that the current probe will serve to cleanse the organisation and turn it around for the benefit of Nigerians.