(By Johnson Eze)
“The questions that remained unanswered as this probe progresses is whether the previous ministers also enjoyed the services of a chartered aircraft in the cause of their day to day activities while in office? At what point did NNPC start using chartered aircraft in their business activities? Did former ministers, Rilwan Lukman, Jubril Aminu, Don Etiebet and Dan Etete use chartered aircraft during their time? If yes, how much did they spend each in chartering aircraft? I think the best thing the legislators should concern themselves with is speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which is pending before them for too long and leave the corporation and the minister alone to do their job”.
Continued from yesterday (2-7-2014)
Read the first part here>>>> http://risenetworks.org/2014/07/02/nnpc-charter-jet-and-matters-arising-1/
“OPERATIONS in the oil and gas sector are time sensitive and often require prompt attention, which cannot be achieved using regular scheduled flights. It is standard practice for a large oil and gas corporation such as NNPC to make use of the most efficient means of transportation to ensure the effective and efficient coverage of the vast scope of critical oil and gas assets under their purview. NNPC has always availed itself of the use of owned or chartered aircraft for the purpose of its business, which includes the transportation of its top functionaries.
In this regard, it is pertinent to note that the international oil companies operating in joint ventures with NNPC, regularly charter aircraft as dictated by the exigencies of their business. Indeed some have moved from owning their own aircraft to using the charter option. Other national oil companies, such as Sonangol of Angola, have also chosen the charter option.
The advantages of the charter option include zero capital and maintenance costs resulting in a lower financial outlay and thus an improved cash flow.”
On her part, an economic pundit who did not want her name in print accused the House of Representatives and All Progressive Congress of witch-hunting the minister because of her gender, adding that if she were to be a male minister all the attacks and blackmail against her person and her activities would not have occurred. She noted that those behind the senseless probe of the minister’s expenditure should first of all make their own expenditure public before pointing out other public officers’ error or misdeed.
Her words: “How much had the Speaker spent so far in chartering of aircraft since he assumed office as Speaker? Or is he telling us that he is not and has not travelled on a chartered fight since he became speaker? Nigerians will like to know how much it is costing the nation’s taxpayers to charter flights for the Speaker and other principal officers of the House of Representatives annually. Because a law maxim states that ‘he who comes to equity must come to her with clean hands’ and the holy book also admonishes us to first remove the plank in our eyes before attempting to remove the mote in other peoples’ eyes. What is good for the goose, they say, is also good for the gander. Therefore, Nigerians will not be allergic to hearing how much it is costing them in monetary terms to charter flights for their Honourable Speaker, the governors of the 36 states, the governor of CBN, and other ministers and not singling out the Petroleum ministry because it is headed by a female. It is hard time these male politicians put a stop to this indiscriminate gender war to discredit the efforts of females who are excelling in public assignments. Their coordinated media war ended up removing the Minister of Aviation from office even when her performance surpassed that of all her predecessors, a majority of whom were males, yet she was cajoled out of office by the male jingoistic tendencies. Enough is enough, in as much as I will not wish to support corruption in any guise; I will not also want the corruption crusaders and whistle blowers to be gender bias. The war against corruption in all sectors of the nation’s economy should be holistic.
The House of Representative is probing the alleged N10 billion spent by NNPC in chartering aircraft for the minister of Petroleum Resources who also doubles as the board chairperson of the corporation for her official and personal trips as the house alleged. And they want her out of office so that the angel they will recommend who will not make use of chartered flight in the cause of his or her official duties can be appointed. The President succumbed to their coordinated campaign against the Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Odua, now it is the minister of Petroleum Resources. What happened to Faruk Lawan who was alleged to have collected nearly one million dollar bribe from an oil firm during investigations into fuel subsidy scam? Your guess is as good as mine. But the unfortunate fact is that he is still maintaining his seat in the parliament without any official sanction from the leadership of the House. The House should sanitise itself before looking outside as they are currently doing in the case of the chartered jet probe. Also fresh in our minds is the case of the first female Speaker of House of Representative, Mrs. Patricia Eteh, who was accused of inflating a proposed contract for the renovation of speaker’s residence and subsequently removed out of office. But eventually, Bankole who succeeded her renovated the same house at an amount four times Eteh’s estimate and subsequently sold it to himself at a giveaway prize. Aruma Oteh of Security and Exchange Commission was denied a budget for a whole year because President refuses to remove her at their recommendation. I can go on and on.”
Lending his voice to the debate, a security and strategy consultant and public affairs analyst, Chief Max Gbanite sought to know from the parliamentarians carrying out the probe, if the ministers of Petroleum Resources before Mrs. Diezani Alison made use of chartered aircraft in their operations or not? He posited that the only way the House can prove to Nigerians that their probe of the chartered aircraft is not a witch-hunt is to establish the fact that it is the present minister that introduced the use of chartered aircraft. “The questions that remained unanswered as this probe progresses is whether the previous ministers also enjoyed the services of a chartered aircraft in the cause of their day to day activities while in office? At what point did NNPC start using chartered aircraft in their business activities? Did former ministers, Rilwan Lukman, Jubril Aminu, Don Etiebet and Dan Etete use chartered aircraft during their time? If yes, how much did they spend each in chartering aircraft? I think the best thing the legislators should concern themselves with is speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which is pending before them for too long and leave the corporation and the minister alone to do their job”.
Passage of the PIB, it should be noted, will handsomely enhance the work of the minister of Petroleum, the group managing director of NNPC and indeed all those entrusted with the management of the oil and gas sector to perform better and make Nigeria benefit optimally from the industry.
Eze wrote from Abuja.
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