ABUJA (9News Nigeria) – The ongoing investigative hearing by the National Assembly Committee set up to look into the contracts awarded for the rehabilitation of the four refineries over the past 10 years, was stalled on Thursday, 21st April 2022 due to the absence of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva and Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Resources (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari.
The Committee also queried NNPC over the full payment of $3.7 billion to the contractors without commensurate results.
According to the lawmakers, NNPC awarded Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) at the sum of $1.5 billion; Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (WRPC) awarded at the sum of $900 million; while Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (KRPC)) was awarded at $1.3 billion.
In the bid to ensure accountability of public funds spent so far on the rehabilitation of the four refineries without commensurate results, the Committee specifically requested for: Appraisal of the current state of refineries in the Country: Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC); Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (WRPC) and Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited (KRPC) from the year 2012 to date; copies of annual budgets on rehabilitation by the refineries.
Worried by the flagrant disregard for Parliament, Chairman, Ad-hoc Committee mandated to determine actual cost of rehabilitating the refineries and what is needed to bring them back to maximum refining capacity, Hon. Ganiyu Johnson vowed that the House will invoke necessary powers to compel his appearance.
While acknowledging that President Muhammadu Buhari doubles as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, he observed that the office was delegated to the Minister of State.
“The President is the Minister of Petroleum but that office has been delegated to the Minister of State for Petroleum and he has been summoned.
“So let us wait until Thursday, 27th April 2022 whether he would come or not. I am optimistic that he (Minister) would show up.”
Hon. Johnson who frowned at the lackadaisical attitude of the Minister and NNPC Group Managing Director to the previous invitations sent to them said: “We represent the people and we owe the people this responsibility and until they appear, they are stalling our investigation. Unless they have something to hide. Otherwise, by now we should have made progress. So this should be the last time we are calling on them to appear.
“Why are the refineries not functioning if they do not have anything to hide.”
On his part, Hon. Olarewaju Edun said: “If you look at the chairman’s statement it clearly stated in the parliament there are procedures to get them to appear. In the Parliament, there are procedures and the procedures have been followed today.
“The Chairman gave them the other time that this is the final day for them to appear before we apply appropriate action of the Parliament and that has been done. They have been summoned to appear and if they fail to appear on the said date, the next step to be taken is what we should wait for.”
In his intervention, Hon. Johnson Oghuma said: “For your question in addition, we just want to give them the benefit of doubt. But what I am not too comfortable about is that from the information available to us here, all the figures mentioned, the contracts have been awarded and jobs completed in our records and books.
“And we are wondering why the refineries are not working. If contracts have been awarded, money paid and jobs completed, by our books and their books, why are the refineries not working.
“So they need to appear before us. So Nigerians would hear us and hear them and Nigerians would judge. We know we have our powers but we are giving them another chance. So by Thursday, if they fail then we follow our parliamentary procedure. We have the power to arrest.”
Also speaking, Hon. Ibrahim Aliyu said: “We are not here to witch hunt anybody and that is why the committee took all the necessary steps of communication and then the result is always the failure to comply from the side of those invited.
“Nigerians can bear witness that just of recent, the president brought a request of 4 trillion for subsidy. Look at what that money can do in a developing economy like Nigeria., when we have epileptic power supply, bad roads.
“And all these issues surround the importation of refined petroleum product while we have four refineries in the country and that contracts for the rehabilitation of these refineries have been given and completed, then what stops the refineries from working. They need to come and explain to Nigerians.
“We have given them an ultimatum to appear in the best diplomatic way. The next thing, this committee would do the needful,” he assured.
While venting his view, Hon. Oghene Egho said: “What we have here is a Parliament sitting. This is a committee set up by parliament to look into an issue that affects the life and livelihood of Nigerians. Everyday everybody uses petrol.
“So this is an issue that is in the interest of Nigerians and if Parliament find it wise to set up a Committee to look into the issue and then the NNPC MD is refusing to appear, then it shows that he has something to hide.
“It shows he is not working in the interest of country. And it shows he is sabotaging the efforts of the president. We are talking about refineries where billions were poured into it. If the money was poured into electricity, maybe today we would not be having the collapse of our lines.
“We are fighting to the interest of Nigerians. We are not witch hunting. So let the NNPC MD know that if he does not come he disobeyed parliament and let us see what would happen if he refuses to appear the next time.
“Three Assemblies before have done this and before and the result is as it is. Several of the reports never come to the floor.
While responding to question on the inconclusive investigative hearing conducted by 3 Assemblies, Hon. Oghuma said: “This 9th Assembly is different from other assemblies. There are so many things that were hitherto difficult for the past assemblies that we have been able to resolve.
“This one would be one of those difficult terrain that others could not tread that we have done. We are ready for this assignment and that is why we are here.”
While ruling, Hon. Johnson said: “As Chairman of this Honourable Committee, I hereby summon the GMD of the NNPC, the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and the General Managers of Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna Refineries to appear before the Committee on Thursday 28 April, 2022 to avoid legal, constitutional and parliamentary measures to be taken against them in order to compel them to appear.
“As members of the National Assembly and Representatives of the people, we have the constitutional duty to name and demand from those responsible; the Hon. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, the GMD of NNPC and the Operators of the Refineries to let us know the problems besetting our refineries in order to proffer solutions for a sustainable future and for the benefit of all Nigerians.”
Reporting for 9news Nigeria.