Zainab Ahmed NEITI

The lingering regime of corruption in the nation’s oil and gas sector may continue to worsen the well-being of Nigerians, on assessed compromise trailing the execution of capital projects, with funds allegedly being diverted into private pockets.

  Meanwhile, the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has paid N590 billion as 2013 subsidy to importers as at August.

Already, the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has uncovered over $9.8 billion (N1.6 trillion) discrepancies in the transactions of oil companies’ accounts, in the last 10 years.

So far, only $2.6 billion (N416 billion) has been recovered from the culprits.

The industry stakeholders, who gathered at the sustainability and transparency seminar oganised by CSR-in-Action, in Lagos recently, said the huge amount of monies that found their way into the purse of corrupt public officials would have significantly boosted the social well being of the populace, if accountability was the watchword.

Former Vice President of the World Bank, Africa Region, Obiageli Ezekwesili, said: “Transparency is an antidote to bad behavior in the extractive industries,”

She tasked the National Assembly to be the most significant partner with NEITI, in other to achieve the objectives of the agency and wipe away corruption in the system.

The Executive Secretary, NEITI, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who also bemoaned the spate of corruption in the sector, stressed the need for citizens to demand accountability from the necessary people at the helms of affairs.

Reacting on the level of oil theft, Chief Executive Officer, Zenera Consulting, Meka Olowola, commented on reports that as much as $10.9billion had been lost to oil theft.

He tasked stakeholders to chart a leeway to combating the menace, which has eaten deep into the nation’s oil production business.

The host communities also used the opportunity to lay their grievances as the President, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Legborsi Saro Pyagbara lamented that, “the monies expended by oil companies do not translate to impact on the ground”.

He suggested that communities must be elevated to the status of equal partners in sustainability discussions.

Chairman, Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN), Emeka Ene, stated that the importance of building trust with indigenous communities cannot be overemphasised, hence the need for a better understanding between the oil firms and their host communities.

To bridge the gap and to provide a platform for dialogue across all diverse stakeholders, Oando Foundation, Chude Jideonwo,  noted: “We need an engaged and informed citizenry because we have a generational problem. Empower people to demand sustainability”

Senior Programme Officer, Ford Foundation, Joseph Gitari, said people need to realize that  it is the responsibility of their governments to provide basic infrastructure and not wholly the charge of the multinational corporations in the industry.

Meanwhile, PPPRA has initiated several measures to avoid future petroleum subsidy fraud in the country.

The agency, which announced the N590 payment billion as 2013 subsidy to importers as at August this year, has introduced ‘Double-Three-Two (3-3-2) inspection system to monitor products imports. “With this, three inspectors nominated by the PPPRA would confirm vessel arrival quantities; another three inspectors also nominated by the PPPRA would confirm vessel discharged quantities, while two other inspectors would confirm the quantities physically trucked-out of the depots”.

The Executive Secretary of PPPRA, Reginald Stanley, who made this disclosure to The Guardian at the weekend, said that following the significant achievements made in 2012 and to ensure reasonable cost savings on operational activities, the inspection system was revised to Two- One-Two (2-1-2) this year.

In a document, made available to The Guardian, and signed by Stanley, monitoring of truck-out of premium motor spirit from the depots by the nominated surveyors would be an added check on marketers operations.

The document added that suppliers are now required to confirm independently to PPPRA, the quantity supplied to each marketer, adding that international product suppliers and local bankers dealing with marketers would henceforth be held accountable for discrepancies that are traced back to them.

This would also be used as a basis for subsidy reimbursement as marketers have to achieve 80 per cent truck-out compliance as a condition for subsidy processing

It added:  “The agency has introduced the submission and verification of Notice of Arrival and Notice of Readiness Vessel-import-financing documents as a prelude to obtaining approval to discharge imported PMS.

“We have embarked on rejection of “homogenized cargo” from multiple vessels with no defined origins. Importers are required to produce Certificate of Origin for Cargoes from refineries or blending plants only.

“There is a total ban on Cargos procured from floating storages in the West African Coast.  We have introduced and ensure enforcement of the submission of the following additional documents as a pre-condition for processing of subsidy claims”.

 

[The Guardian]

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