Jonathan in a fix over Ribadu’s report


President Goodluck Jonathan appears to be in a quandary over the report
presented to him penultimate Friday by the Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue
Special Task Force, Sunday Independent has learnt.
It emerged at the weekend that what is giving the
President more concern, apart from the show of shame some of the Committee
members exhibited before him when the document was being presented, is the
thinking of the international community with regard to the discordant tones the
report has generated.

A Presidency source told Sunday Independent that President Jonathan had not only
complained to some of his close aides, ranking politicians and government
officials about how worried he is over the report, but has started making wide
consultation on the way forward.

“From every indication, it does appear the President
would not adopt the report. In fact, I would not be surprised if he disbands
the panel and reconstitutes a fresh one because he equally believes something
is wrong some where  about the Ribadu report,” our source said, adding
that the President is also considering a probe into the allegations raised by
the committee members.
Regardless, the last is yet to be heard of the controversy
trailing the report as more members of the committee have taken turns to knock
it, claiming the content is fraught with inconsistencies.
They also claim that the report which found its way into
the media before it was formally presented was deliberately leaked to
achieve  some clandestine purposes.
On Thursday, the Presidency which set up the taskforce
had also declared the job of the committee inconclusive and consequently said
the report was not implementable as presented.
The position of the Presidency had earlier been aired by
some members of the committee who claim they were not privy to the report, and
prominent committee members are crying foul over the hurried packaging of the
report, its alleged surreptitious leakage to the foreign media before the
formal presentation and the allegations of illicit collaboration by some
members of the committee.
Apart from Olisa Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria
and former Head of Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsanye, who are claiming
that the report could not have been ready since the work of the taskforce was
yet to be concluded in line with the terms of reference given it, another
member, Chief Anthony George-Ikoli, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, insisted
that “the committee’s assignment is factually yet to be definitely concluded,
consequently a final report cannot exist, especially not in the form being
circulated by the media”.
George-Ikoli presenting his position in a statement dated
October 30, stated that the ‘Committee of the Whole’ never received, considered
nor approved a subcommittee-processed report since the report-writing
subcommittee never “received, reviewed, revised and submitted a preliminary
report for the Committee of the Whole’s further consideration”.
He explained that the necessary levels and procedures to
identify figures, facts and information as well as mandatory authentication and
cross-checking to ensure information data integrity and credibility were yet to
be carried out.
Pointing out that at the last meeting, which held in
June, a written proposal presented to the committee members was advised to be
subjected to the established integral norms and procedures of civilised conduct
in such a setting, George Okoli decried what he termed the “organised and
syndicated leakage of the report in the media.”
The development, he lamented, was unfortunate as it would
neither aid the attainment of the anti-corruption agenda of the government nor
the terms of reference of the committee.
Also Oronsanye, who is said to have sent a protest letter
on the matter to the Presidency, joined issues with Ribadu over his alleged
association and connivance with Addax Petroleum.
Oronsanye, in a four paragraph statement entitled “Right
of Reply”, said though he was not in the mood to trade words with Ribadu, he
does not have any relationship with the petroleum company and wondered why the
Ribadu did not confront him, as a member of the committee with the facts if he
was sure of them.
He challenged Ribadu to publish for the records any
evidence he has about his alleged romance with Addax “rather than issue false
statements on the pages of the newspapers.
The Directorate for Petroleum Resources (DPR) also
knocked the report and insisted that the contents of the report on page 101 was
misleading and required further extensive review with the relevant body to
obtain the true picture.
In a response to the report, DPR stated: “On the debt
collection, the DPR observed that the royalty computation of the task force
consultant presented on page 101 of the report is not correct. DPR was prior to
this audit, executing reconciliation exercise from 1990 to 2011 of royalty
obligations and payments by all operators”.
Speaking the mind of the Federal Government on the issue
at a press conference in Abuja last Thursday, the Senior Special Assistant to
the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe said it would amount to
injustice for anyone to expect government to implement in totality, a report
the committee which wrote it admitted was not done properly.
Paragraph Four of the committee’s report, where the
committee admitted that “due to time frame of the assignment, some of the data
used could not be independently verified and the Task Force recommends that the
Government should conduct such necessary verifications and reconciliations”, is
being seen as supporting the DPR position.
Okupe had pointed out that the committee wrote a caveat
on its own report in which it admitted that it did not fulfil the main
ingredients of its terms of reference upon which the work given to it was
expected to be carried out.
He regretted that the committee failed to carry out a
very critical part of its assignment but instead passed on the duty of
reconciliation and verification of data to the government.
The presidential aide therefore said that it would amount
to injustice for anyone to expect the Federal Government to implement in
totality a report which the committee which wrote it admitted was not done
Oronsanye in a personal letter he is believed to have
sent to President Jonathan towards the weekend reportedly pointed out that the
report contained a lot of innuendoes and assumptions not supported by facts, a
development he claimed he had observed and suggested a review, to no avail.
He is said to have informed the President that a
significant portion of the data used in compiling the report had not been
verified; a situation which led to his warning that he would decline appending
his signature to the report if such figures were not verified.
The former Head of Service claimed that it was his
initial position on the appointment of Ribadu as the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission while serving as a permanent secretary in the State House
during Obasanjo’s regime and his objection to some irregular methods adopted at
the taskforce that led to his being “framed” by the chairman on the Addax
Daily Independent


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