Our correspondent

The PPPRA has vowed to sanction any filling station found flouting government’s directive.

The Assistant General Manager/Head of Operations, PPPRA, Mr. Victor Shidok, threatened that the agency would withdraw licences of defaulters.Farouk-Ahmed
Shidok, who led a team from the PPPRA to monitor the level of compliance with the directive in Abuja, warned that the government would not tolerate any deviation from the new directive.

He said the monitoring, which was simultaneously going on across the country, was done in conjunction with the DPR to ensure that Nigerians were not shortchanged.

Shidok stated that there was 100 per cent compliance as at press time in the city centre, but noted the team had yet to reach the outskirts where he feared that there might be challenges with regard to total compliance. Read More →

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Chika Amanze-Nwachuku


It has emerged that the nationwide fuel shortage engineered by oil marketers was done to pressurise the outgoing administration led by President Goodluck Jonathan to pay them an additional N200 billion comprising outstanding claims and foreign exchange rate differential, even though the claims had not been verified and may have been spurious.Okonjo-Iweala

Investigations by THISDAY have shown that contrary to the position by the oil marketers that they have been unable obtain new facilities from the banks to import petroleum products, the marketers were bent on getting the current administration to pay their claims before the end of its tenure because they were uncertain that the new administration led by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari would pay them on time. Read More →

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Written by Nduka Chiejina, Abuja and Akinola Ajibade

A major showdown looms today between the Federal Government and major oil marketers over fuel subsidy payment.

The disagreement over the marketers’ claims and their insistence on being paid immediately may elongate the fuel scarcity that has crippled business.Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in Abuja yesterday that the oil marketers “have formed a cartel that can ground the nation to a halt at will”.

She added that “the nation must do something about it”. Read More →

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News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)


The Federal Government on Thursday said it had paid N156 billion debt to oil marketers in line with its commitment to prioritise payments in spite of revenue constraints.Fuel-Scarcity

This is contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Paul Nwabuikwu, on Thursday in Abuja.

The statement stated that the payment had two components comprising `I owe you’ (IOU), given in March and interest on payment. Read More →

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IKEJA – The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) yesterday confirmed that N1.1 billion was paid to an oil company, Majope Investment Ltd., accused of fuel subsidy fraud.
A Senior Research Officer in the PPPRA, Mr Mohammed Ghidi, made the disclosure while testifying at the trial of three oil marketers before Justice Lateefa Okunnu of an Ikeja High Court.
The marketers, Opeyemi Ajuyah, Abdullahi Alao and Olarenwaju Olalusi, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.EFCC
The defendants are facing an eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, forgery, uttering and use of false documents.
Ghidi, under cross-examination by the Defence Counsel, Messrs Olarenwaju Ajanaku and Aderemi Oguntoye, however, said the computation made in 2011 was based on the documents submitted by the marketers.
“There was no problem with the transaction in 2011 when the PPPRA recommended that the money should be paid to Majope Investment Ltd. Read More →

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• Says she was denied food, water for five days

•PPPRA: Subsidy payments may hit N1.23tn

Ndubuisi Francis and Onwuka Nzeshi in Abuja

Barely three days after her mother, Prof. Kamene Okonjo, was freed, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, disclosed yesterday that the kidnappers told the octogenarian that the minister’s purported refusal to pay subsidy claims as well as the non-release of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) funds were the motives behind their heinous action.

The minister, who said the old woman’s freedom from the abductors was miraculous, added that although she was denied food and water for the five days she was in captivity, she was in excellent health.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Briefing journalists in Abuja, Okonjo-Iweala, who described her mother as a very courageous woman, said while she was in their custody, the woman had inquired from the kidnappers the motive behind the ordeal they had subjected her to.
The abductors, she said, had told her mother in no uncertain terms that her daughter (the minister) had refused to pay subsidy claims to marketers as well as blocked the release of funds accruing to SURE-P.

To set the record straight, the minister noted that nobody had stopped the payment of subsidy to marketers whose claims had been verified by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee, stressing that the insistence of the Federal Government remained that only claims emanating from genuine transactions and had been verified should be paid – a position she said Nigerians had also championed.

On SURE-P, the minister stated that the programme was a different process, under a special committee, which is not under her control, adding that the Federal Government would continue to do what is right and in the overall interest of Nigerians.
“I can’t give all the details because we don’t want to compromise ongoing investigations.
“But I can tell you one thing: My mother suffered a great deal during this ordeal. It was only the Almighty God that rescued her from a situation that could very easily have ended tragically.

“Apart from the emotional trauma of being violently taken away from her family and kept incommunicado for five days in a strange environment, a woman of 83 years was left without food for five days. We give glory to God that she is alive today to tell the tale,” she said.
She said while her mother was in their custody, the kidnappers spent much of the time harassing her.
“They told her that I must get on the radio and television and announce my resignation. When she asked why, they told her it was because I did not pay ‘oil subsidy money’.

“They also said I had blocked the payment of money to certain components of the SURE-P programme.
“These statements are, of course, not true. In the case of subsidy payments, we have been paying all marketers whose claims have been verified by the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee after going through the necessary processes.

“For marketers whose transactions are proven to be fraudulent, the position of the President Jonathan government is also clear: we cannot and we will not pay. We will not back down on this. We will continue to stand firm.
“In the case of SURE-P, there is a totally different process that I have no control over. This is the right thing to do. And this, I believe is what the Nigerian people want,” she said.

The minister, who thanked God for His act of mercy in ensuring the safe return of her mother, said the outpouring of love and support to her family from Nigerians of all persuasions had strengthened her love for her country and firmed her resolve to expend more energy in serving her fatherland.

She thanked President Goodluck Jonathan, and his wife, Patience; Vice-President Namadi Sambo; Senate President, David Mark; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and teeming Nigerians from various walks of life and religious inclination, who stood behind the Okonjo family with their prayers and outpouring of love during her mother’s ordeal.

Okonjo-Iweala particularly thanked Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State; his Anambra State counterpart, Peter Obi; Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, and several other governors for their roles and support during the trying period.
She also thanked fellow cabinet members, who showed solidarity through their calls and other means, adding that these helped to assuage her fear over the abduction.

She said the international community was also most supportive during the period, adding that the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, sent a personal message of solidarity, just as did the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, the United States’ embassy, both present and past World Bank presidents, as well as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, among others.

“Even as we thank God, we cannot forget so many Nigerians who have gone through the same terrible experience either as victims or families or friends of victims. Words are not enough to describe the sheer horror of the experience.

“The best way to honour the victims and families is to ensure that there is greater focus on kidnapping and progress in combating it. Working with the relevant agencies under the leadership of the president, I intend to contribute my quota in helping to achieve this.
“We also thank Mr. President and the First Lady who were absolutely wonderful and first rate in their support and encouragement to me and my family throughout this terrible ordeal. The president took a daily interest in the case and gave directives for appropriate action by the security agencies.

“The security agencies also did a good job. They were very professional and enthusiastic in the discharge of their duties. I am hopeful that they will complete the job which they started so well.

“As terrible as the experience was, the love and sympathy of Nigerians was constant and overwhelming. It helped us get through the dark moments of this five-day ordeal. God heard the prayers of the millions of Nigerians who prayed for the safe return of my mother. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all those who sent messages of support and encouragement by phone, by email and in person.

“To those who prayed in their homes and organised prayer circles in their churches and mosques and offices, I say, thank you. Your prayers were heard,” she said.

The minister also expressed her heartfelt sympathy over the death of the former Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, the former National Security Adviser (NSA), General Andrew Owoye Azazi, and the four others who died in last Saturday’s helicopter crash in Bayelsa State.

The minister said the late governor and NSA were people she knew very well and worked closely with, adding that it was with a heavy heart that she was expressing their loss.

Okonjo-Iweala noted that their death had tempered the mood of the nation at this festive period.
In the meantime, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) is estimating that the Federal Government might spend N1.23 trillion on fuel subsidy payments by the end of 2012.

This projection is inclusive of the initial N888.1 billion budgeted for fuel subsidy in the budget, the N162 billion proposed in the supplementary budget as well as any extra payment that may arise from subsidy claims by petroleum product marketers at the end of the year.

The Executive Secretary, PPPRA, Mr. Reginald Stanley, gave the breakdown yesterday at a meeting with the Joint House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Appropriation, Petroleum Upstream and Petroleum Downstream.
The meeting was convened as part of the legislative process to assess the supplementary budget recently presented to the National Assembly by the president.

Stanley, who justified the request by Jonathan for the N162 billion extra to fund the fuel subsidy scheme, said that going by the trend of relevant indicators, government might spend as much as N1.23 trillion at the end of the day.

He debunked speculations that the supplementary budget did not emanate from a forensic audit and thorough calculation, insisting that the executive did its homework well before arriving at the amount it requested in the extra budget.

Lawmakers in the lower chamber of the National Assembly had picked holes in the supplementary budget proposal, describing it as bloated.
Some had dismissed it as a figment of the imagination of the executive and almost threw it out when the bill got to the second reading in the House.

However, the PPPRA boss said that the N161,617,364,911 supplementary budget was right on track, explaining that the N888 billion earlier budgeted for fuel subsidy payments also included the N232 billion earmarked for the payment of arrears arising from 2011 subsidy claims and N650 billion for 2012 claims.

Even at that, Stanley said the 2011 arrears later shot up to N451 billion, leaving behind N437 billion only for 2012 payments. He said that so far, N605 billion in subsidy claims had been processed and were awaiting payment.
The PPPRA boss said that the outstanding portion of the funds budgeted for subsidy was grossly inadequate hence the need for the supplementary budget.

“The total projection of about N1.23 trillion should not scare anybody because we are an oil producing nation and we are reaping from the upper part of the deal in terms of higher prices for crude oil.

“In the same vein, we should not also forget that about 95 per cent of the products are imported,” he said.
The Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Bright Okogu, who was also at the meeting, backed Stanley’s position, stating that the supplementary budget was necessary and urgent. He urged the lawmakers to expedite action on its passage.

 

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By John Ofikhenua

 


The former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, on Tuesday boasted that he will fish out the petroleum subsidy thieves within one week if given the task by the Federal Government.

He blamed the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency for all the atrocities perpetrated in the management of the fund, saying the agency released the funds and did not account for it.

Ribadu

He submitted that as an intelligent chief he would simply check their letters of credit and bill of landing to bring all those who benefited from the subsidy to justice.

Ribadu, who spoke at the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission in Abuja, said all the regulatory irregularities in Nigeria are due to “leadership failure.”

His words: “Look at the energy sector and see what we are talking about. Most of the problems we are talking about today are failure of regulation or regulators including the subsidy. If PPPRA had lived up to expectations we would not be having these problems.  Nobody will take one penny from government if those agencies did not allow them.

“If I was to handle this subsidy I will just catch PPPRA. I will bring out each one of them and in one week I will get the people responsible because the gate keeper is the one in charge.

“I will just get them because nobody will make one penny from the subsidy unless PPPRA allows it. For every single person that benefited from subsidy I can assure you public officers gained three times,” Ribadu stated.

He added that the NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi, needs “courage” to carry out the reform in the power sector.

 

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