One of those indicted in the damning revelations made in the report of the House of Reps Committee that investigated the fuel subsidy regime is the current Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo who had served as the Accountant General of the Federation between 2005 and 2010.
The indictment has led to calls from within the state that Alhaji Dankwambo should resign his position. Most of those who spoke to Street Journal in Gombe described it as “embarrassing that somebody of Governor Dankwambo’s calibre could be involved in such atrocities”. Calls have also gone to the Gombe State House of Assembly to commence moves to impeach him in case he refuses to resign.
According to the report, over N2 trillion was expended as fuel subsidy between 2009 and December 2011. The bulk of the blame for the irregularities was put on the Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, as well as on former accountant general of the federation Ibrahim Dankwambo and former chairman of the PPPRA board Ahmadu Ali.
One of the committee’s recommendations was that the power’s currently being wielded by the Petroleum Minister should be reduced. To achieve this, the panel recommended that instead of having only Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke as Petroleum Minister, two Ministers should be appointed to oversee the Ministry. While one would oversee the upstream, the other would be for the downstream.
The committee also recommended that members of the boards and managements of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPRA), past and present, who are found wanting, for making unauthorised deductions of hundreds of billions during the period should be prosecuted.
The sack of present management of the NNPC led by Mr. Austin Oniwon was also recommended.
It also said NNPC must be made to refund to the federal purse N705 billion; PPPRA N312 billion; oil marketers who drew funding without importation, N8.7 billion; while companies that refused to appear during the investigations are to repay N41.9 billion.
It was stated in the report that “if the Petroleum Subsidy Fund was properly managed, the sum of N1.07 trillion would have been available to the three tiers of government.”
The House yesterday said the report’s 61 recommendations would be considered at a plenary session to be relayed on live television on Tuesday.
A portion of the report of the committee on the NNPC reads in part: “the management and board of the NNPC should be completely overhauled and all those involved in the following infractions be further investigated and prosecuted by the relevant anti-corruption agencies:
Payment of N285.098 billion in excess of the PPPRA recommended figure for 2011, subsidy deductions of N310.414 billion for kerosene against a Presidential directive;
Direct deductions from funds for the Federation Account in contravention of section 162 of the Nigerian constitution and illegal granting of price differential or discounts of crude oil price per barrel to NNPC to the tune of N108.648 billion from 2009-2011.
NNPC should be unbundled to make its operations more efficient and transparent, and this we believe can also be achieved through the passage of a well drafted and comprehensive Petroleum Industry Bill. The committee therefore urges the speedy drafting and submission of the bill to the National Assembly.
The NNPC was found not to be accountable to anybody or authority. The corporation in 2011 processed payment of N310.4 billion as 2009-2011 arrears of subsidy on kerosene contrary to a Presidential directive which removed subsidy on kerosene in 2009 without any provisions in the Appropriation Act.”
The committee recommended “direct for the auditing of the NNPC to determine its solvency. This was as a result of claims of indebtedness and demands for payments by the NNPC’s debtors which if not well handled, will not only affect the entire economy of Nigeria, but also supply and distribution of petroleum products”.
The committee also stated that “the chairman of the board of the PPPRA from 2009-2011, and the entire members of the board during the period are hereby reprimanded and their decision which opened the floodgate for the bazaar is condemned in the strongest terms.”
Alhaji Dankwambo, the Governor of Gombe State was not spared, the report said, “the particular Accountant General that served during the period 2009 was found to have made payments of equal instalments of N999 million for the record of 128 times within 24 hours totalling N127.872 billion.
The confirmed payments from CBN records were made to beneficiaries yet to be disclosed by the OAGF or identified by the committee. We however, discovered that only 36 marketers were participants under the PSF scheme during this period. Even if there were 128 marketers, it was inconceivable that all would have imported the same quantity of products to warrant equal payments.”
It was also included in the recommendations that: “all those in the Federal Ministry of Finance, office of the Director General of the budget, Accountant General of the Federation involved in the extra budgetary expenditure under the Petroleum Support Scheme between 2009-2011 should be sanctioned in accordance with the civil service rules and code of conduct bureau. The payment of N999 million 128 times within 24 hours between 12th and 13th January 2009 by the office of the Account General should be further investigated by relevant anti-corruption agencies”.
Trade and Investment minister Dr. Olusegun Aganga served as Finance Minister during the period, while Dr. Bright Okogu has been Director General of the Budget Office.
The report clearly showed that the subsidy regime was operated from 2009-2011 was fraught with “endemic corruption and entrenched inefficiency. Much of the amount claimed to have been paid as subsidy was actually not for consumed PMS. Government officials made nonsense of the PSF guidelines due to mainly sleaze and in some case incompetence. It is therefore apparent that the insistence by top government officials that the subsidy figures were for products consumed was a clear attempt to mislead the Nigerian people.”
The committee found out that N2.6 trillion was spent on subsidy last year, amounting to more than 900 per cent over the appropriated sum of N245 billion.