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Bribery Scandal Rocks Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry: The Petroleum Minister’s Role

Petroleum Industry

Three months ago, Street Journal gave an exclusive report about the existence of a cabal in Nigeria’s petroleum industry. The cabal in question is made up loyalists of the Petroleum Minister, Diezeani Allison Madueke and they now call the shots as far as the petroleum industry is concerned. Street Journal had blown the lead on the Minster’s move at strengthening her hold on the nation’s petroleum sector by placing her loyalists in key positions in the Petroleum Ministry.

Having succeeded in building her structure, occupants of key positions now see them as money-making ventures. From the Group Directors in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to those at the helm of affairs in subsidiaries of the NNPC, all are fiercely loyal to her and one thing they all seem to understand is that “Madam’s word is the law.”

It was also alleged by insiders that the Minister seems to be gradually easing out people from the South West and the core North from the mainstream of things in the NNPC. A source revealed to Street Journal that racketeering has now become the order of the day with Nigerians bearing the brunt of the illegal business while officials in the petroleum industry smile to the banks.

It is being alleged in some quarters that the Minister might not be oblivious of the existence of a money-making racket within the sector.

Street Journal’s investigations have shown that the NNPC has restricted its supply of products especially Premium Motor Spirit (PMS or Petrol) solely to marketers that have its tickets. Street Journal also found out that while trying to reduce the number of marketers getting supply from the Petroleum Products Marketing Corporation (PPMC), the procedure of obtaining Pro Forma Invoice (PFI) has become more difficult.

Street Journal gathered that before now, the procedure was that once a marketer obtains a PFI and pays, such a marketer would be programmed through the NNPC’s Supply and Dispatch Department in Lagos. The marketer would therefore be allowed to take products from the NNPC vessel at Atlas Cove Jetty. Investigations also revealed that contrary to what Nigerians were made to believe at a point in time that the country had enough petroleum products to last for some months, the NNPC actually ran short of products. That was when the PPMC stopped raising PFIs.

Another source, however, pointed out that the insufficiency of products is not without its benefits as some people are making brisk business out of it. Citing an example, the source disclosed that “when independent marketers don’t get enough products from the PPMC, they are forced to go to the private depots at Apapa and of course those one would not sell at the same price as the NNPC. It thus becomes difficult for the independent marketers to sell at the official pump price.”

Street Journal’s investigations have revealed that it is either that the anti-corruption agencies in the country are inefficient or they have simply chosen to turn a blind eye to the rot that has taken over Nigeria’s petroleum industry. Presently, a litre of kerosene sells for N 140 while diesel goes for N 150 per litre in most filling stations. Investigations have however shown that the products come from the depot with an official price of N 40 per litre. It is however being said within the sector that those involved “have links in high places and as such might never get arrested by any anti-corruption agency not to talk of being prosecuted”.

A source who opined that the Petroleum Minister might be involved in the racketeering disclosed that “to get PFI these days, you need to settle the officials and when you settle them, you do so with good money.” Probing as to why it could be necessary to settle the officials before a PFI could be obtained, the source replied that “all the officials say they are raising funds for the Minister and it is like that in every agency that is related to the NNPC. The same thing now happens everywhere, to get anything you must give the officials something. It is difficult to believe the Minister doesn’t know about it, especially with everyone in almost every office claims to be raising money for her” the source concluded.

Street Journal’s investigation also revealed that while the people suffer due to the shortage of some products, the allocation that should have gone to marketers are being given to some people who most marketers have chosen to describe as being of “questionable characters”. A source within the NNPC also revealed that “strong people from the South South have become the main power brokers now as they get the bulk of the allocations and now resell to make huge profits.”

The general belief all across the petroleum sector in Nigeria now is that Mrs. Alison-Madueke who hails from Yenagoa has not only succeeded in empowering a “South South Mafia” within the NNPC but that the mafia is allegedly aiding and abetting the cabal that is benefitting illegally from Nigeria’s oil wealth.

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