CALLS FOR RESIGNATION OF MINISTER OF PETROLEUM A MISPLACED PRIORITY

 

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By Linus Aleke, Abuja

The minister of petroleum Resources Mrs. Dieziani Allison-Madueke is one of the best crop of ministers in President Jonathan’s cabinet irrespective of the views and perceptions of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Finance cumulating in their call for her resignation even when in my candid opinion she had performed excellently well to deserve re-appointment even after the expiration of this regime.

Though democracy offers every citizen and institution of government limitless opportunity and freedom to express their different shade of opinion, it must however be remembered that such freedom must be exercised in line with extant laws and with high sense of responsibility and caution to avoid violation of individual rights as provided by the constitution.

It could be recalled that the call by governor Amechi led governors’ forum for the resignation of minister of Finance and the coordinating minister of the economy Dr. Mrs.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for not adhering to the appropriation laws also snowballed into calls by Hon. Abdulmumuni Jibrin led House Committee on finance for the resignation of minister of petroleum Resources for alleged refusal of NNPC to remit N6 trillion it generated between 2009 and 2012 into the consolidated revenue fund.

“I think it is hasty for the Governors’ Forum, most of whom we’ve been working together with before now, to call for the resignation of the minister of Finance Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala. We are missing the point because where we should put our searchlight and lay more emphasis on is the petroleum sector; the NNPC. It is the Minister of Petroleum Mrs.Alison- Madueke that should be called to give account of what is happening. It is not the Minister of Finance. Substantially, the amount of money that we are talking about comes from the oil sector, from crude sales, and until today, we keep talking: how much are we even producing per day? Nobody knows the quantity of crude oil that is being produced in this country. Nobody knows, and nobody is asking the Minister of Petroleum any question.

“The accountability and transparency rate in NNPC is very, very low. The system is still shrouded in absolute secrecy. Nobody understands how they operate, and these are the issues Nigerians should be raising questions over. I believe that attention should move from Ngozi to Diezani, the Minister of Petroleum Resources.” Jibrin suggested.

With the above scenario, one will be tempted to believe that some interest groups in the economic, cultural and political circle in the country had declared war against women in position of authority. First it was the cabinets shake up, in which five out of the nine sacked ministers were women. Now it is calls by two different political pressures group for the resignation of two other female ministers, what a shame?

In as much as I do not want to sound as women advocate, it is also pertinent to point out the fact that recent happenings term to suggest that the nations’ political space is tilting towards total political oblivion for the female folk.

Call it a misplaced priority and you will not be wrong at all or how best can you explain a situation where parliamentarians will leave their primary responsibility of law making, amendment of constitution, approval of appointments, control of public expenditure, probe function etc to call for the sack of a minister who is busy discharging her responsibility in line with the extant laws establishing her office?

I was compelled by this singular action of the parliamentarians to probe more into the responsibilities and functions of the law makers, but did not find anywhere in print or otherwise where it was enshrined or in-scripted that part of the responsibilities of the parliamentarians is to recommend a sack or call for the resignation of a cabinet member.

Reacting to the aforesaid issue, an industry watcher who did not want his name in print told our correspondent that the parliamentarian are going out of their core responsibility by calling for the resignation of a minister who is working day and night to ensure the advancement of the sector, adding that her achievement since she assume office is phenomenal.

He advised the law makers to pay more attention to making laws that will improve the socio-economic lives of Nigerians rather than weeping up sentiment aimed at distracting other.

“If you look at the reasons given by the law makers to justify their call for the resignation of minister of petroleum, you will discover that they are just trying to play politics with the issue. They said non remittance of money from sale of crude to the federation account by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) without recommending possible solutions.. Other reasons alluded to by the committee is the secrecy surrounding the running of NNPC. Though the minister oversees the parastatals under her ministry, it does not mean that those directly charged with the responsibility of running the corporation should be exonerated from the blame simply because they are men. The committee also failed to tell Nigerians that the minister on so, so, and so occasion, refused to supply certain information bordering on the running of the corporation in the cause of their oversight but employ Nigerians to query  the transactions in the oil and gas sector. What a smart way of inciting citizens against certain individual in position of authority. I will not allow myself to be cowed by the committee and hope other Nigerians will also not.

You blame the minister for oil subsidy scam, is she the architect of the scheme? Subsidy was in operation before her appointment as a minister, why then do you crucify her over it? You blame her over oil theft, without saying anything to the security operatives whose primary responsibility is to protect lives and property. Nigerians should learn to channel their complaints to the appropriate authorities and not blame innocent people who are striving to transform the sector of economy they are saddled with the responsibilities of doing. Time will not allow me to enumerate all the achievement of the minister but I believe that her achievement speaks for her.”

However the minister in a forum recently chronicled her achievements when she noted that the series of productive activities in the energy sector has set the industry on the path of renewed growth and sustainable development.

She listed some of her achievements to include; sustenance of the 2.4 mbpd crude oil production, increase in gas production from 6.3 to 7.8 billion cubic feet per day and decrease in gas flare to less than 11% compared to 30% in 2010 as well as the initiative to grow the National Oil Company, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, to a medium size oil and gas company.

“This has re-positioned NPDC as a dominant gas supplier to the domestic market with over 450 mmscfd in the Western Niger Delta. The latest being, the completion and supply of 65 mmscfd from the Oredo Integrated Gas Handling Facility, IGHF into the gas network in 2012,’’

On gas to power, Mrs. Alison-Madueke noted that the April 2012, 12-month Emergency Gas Supply Plan has contributed over 230 mmscfd for power generation and increased national power generating capacity by 30% to 4.2GW of power. Similarly, gas sales rose by more than 70% to an average of 4 billion standard cubic feet per day and for the first time, industry supplied more domestic gas than was consumed by the power and industrial sectors. Plan is to continue in 2013 to further increase power generation by additional 40% to 6.0GW through the addition of 450 mmscfd gas supply,’’ she narrated.

The Minister also attributed the call for her resignation by some power block to her insistence on doing things the right way, arguing that the few individuals calling for her sack were doing so because she has refused to continue the “business as usual” tradition in the oil and gas sector of the economy.

She also vowed that never again will the government allow the return of the age-long cartel in the country’s oil and gas sector. Those fighting the government in the media were doing so because the ministry has been able to frustrate their efforts in strangulating the economy through their devilish black market and questionable profiteering at the expense of the Nigeria people.

“I would not want to join issues with those criticizing me because they are crying foul that through us Mr. President has broken the old order where things are done without coordination. What is hurting them is that we have put policies in place where they can no longer cheat the government and cause untold hardship for millions of Nigerians.”

It is nonetheless pertinent at this juncture to note that the call by house committee on finance for the resignation of minister of petroleum resources is motivated by parochial interest and should be discarded in the dustbin of history. The actions and inactions of political leaders in this country should be guided by public and national interest and not personal or narrow interest aimed at satisfying the aspiration of one or few individuals as epitomized by the house committee on finance.

One cannot but tempted to believe that she is been witch haunted because of her uncommon transformation in the sector which is aimed at benefiting the Nigerian people against the cartel that had been sucking the nation’s wealth dry.

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