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Minister, Ribadu pledge to clean up oil sector rot

Published by Guardian on Wed, 29 Feb 2012

Task force inauguratedWE seek new ethics by promoting values that support a new dawn of business conduct in the sector. Those who play by the rules will enjoy the best support and unscrupulous players should know now that the game is over.'With these words, former Chairman, Economic and Finance Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, yesterday appeared to have served a notice on the readiness of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force to rid the oil industry of corrupt practices.Ribadu spoke in Abuja where the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, inaugurated the panel.Admitting that transparency and accountability have been the exception rather than the norm in the nation's extractive industry, Ribadu stated: 'The truth however is that in an effort to reinvent our country, we must re-elevate the moral standard of public conduct that brings values to our people.'The former EFCC chief added: 'Nigeria is at a crossroads and we understand the work of this task force to be a part of the efforts to connect the pubic and the administration on a newer level of accountability.'While we applaud this step, part of the challenge of moving forward and breaking new paths is to understand the imperatives of constantly renewing faith in our fellow citizens by empowering them with the value of public accountability and responsibility. We must strengthen the decision-making processes in a bid to make governance more transparent and accountable.'We want to appeal to Nigerians who may have information and materials to make them available so that the work of the task force will be successful. The minister said the time frame is two months but we could make it a bit longer because we want Nigerians to participate and own the processes.'Mindful of the cynicism that has greeted the birth of the committee, Alison-Madueke, pledged that the panel's findings would not be swept under the carpet as usual.She said: 'Our journey to transformation is irreversible. Our mission is to transform the petroleum industry and in doing so change the commercial and technical viability of the sector, inculcating full transparency and accountability, thereby ensuring value for money for the people of Nigeria.'We are very mindful that over the years several panels and committees have been set to reform the petroleum industry and over the years many of these efforts have been stalled. The time to break these entrenched interests is now.'According to the minister, the 21-member task force would work with consultants and experts to determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (taxes, royalties, etc.) due and payable to the Federal Government.It would also take necessary steps to collect all debts due and owing; to obtain agreements and enforce payment terms by all oil industry operators and design a cross debt matrix between all Agencies and Parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, among others.Mr. Steve Oronosaye was named Vice Chairman of the panel. Members included Mallam Abba Kyari, Mrs. Benedicta Molokwu, Mr. Tony Idigbe (SAN), Mr. Supo Sasore, Mr. Anthony George-Ikoli, Dr. Omolara Akanji, Mr. Ifuah Ighodalo, Mr. B.O.N Otti, Mallam Samaila Zubairu, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, Mr. Ignatus Adegunle, Mr. Olusegun Okunnu and Mr. Gerald Ilukwe.The ex-officio members are: representative of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, representative of Federal Ministry of Finance, representative of Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, representative of Office of Accountant General of the Federation, representative of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and that of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
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