Oronsaye: My Issues with Ribadu Report

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Former Head of Service of the Federation and Deputy Chairman of
the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force (PRSTF), Mr. Steve Oronsaye, has
explained why he raised certain observations at the presentation of the
committee’s report to President Goodluck Jonathan. Oronsaye’s clarification coincided
with the establishment of three committees by President Goodluck Jonathan
Thursday to prepare draft White Papers on the reports of the PRSTF, National
Refineries Special Task Force and the Governance and Controls Special Task
Force. The presidency has also made it clear
that it has absolutely no intention of dumping the report of the PRSTF, as
speculated by some sections of the public.
Oronsaye, during the presentation of
the report recently, had faulted the process and procedure adopted by the
committee, chaired by former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, in carrying out its work and requested that the
report should not be submitted at that time.

Explaining why he raised his voice at
the venue of the presentation, Oronsaye, in an interview with THISDAY, said:
“There was the consensus in the meeting that they held on the 1st of November
where it was agreed that whoever was presenting the report would make reference
to the caveat or this disclaimer in the report talking about the fact that due
to the timeframe, some of the data could not be independently verified or
reconciled.

“I understand that there was also
consensus that a statement would also be made to the effect that the report
that was out there was not the one that came from the committee because the
committee had not met to consider the report.”
He said because these two key issues,
which were agreed upon, were not mentioned at the presentation, he had to raise
them publicly by requesting that the report should not be accepted at this time
because it was still work-in-progress.
“Had those two things been brought out, of course I would not have reacted. I
would have kept quiet because you would have told the world that some of the
data have not been verified,” he said.
On why he did not write a minority
report instead of opting for the kind of drama that took place at the
presentation, Oronsaye said: “There was no way I would have written a minority
report when the consensus was that two key things would be said at the
presentation and once they were not said, that triggered what I said.”
Oronsaye also emphasised that his
comment was not about the content of the report but about a flawed process,
adding, “What I said was that the process was flawed and we needed more time,
and at best, it should be taken as work in progress.”
Further clarifying his observations
on the report, Oronsaye said: “I want to emphasise that today and even before
now, I have not disagreed with the content of this report and I have not made
any comment whether it is right or wrong.
“Yes, there is corruption in the
industry but that is not the reason why, at my age, I will see what is wrong
and I will not stand up to speak… What I did was really standing out on the
balcony to speak the truth against those who would have been ridiculed when
they have not been given fair-hearing.” 
Noting that the report may not be
able to stand the test of rigorous cross-examination in a court of law because
of the caveat in the attached letter where it was stated that some of the data
used could not be independently verified, he said: “You don’t let people pick
holes in your report. Since the president had said that we should come and
submit the report, we should have been courageous to go back to him and say,
‘Mr. President, can you please give us more time?’”
On the perception that the activities
of the committee and the drama that ensued during the presentation of the
report may have been influenced by past rivalry between him and Ribadu, he
said: “The relationship is not an issue here.
“What is important is that we do what is right in accordance with the terms of
reference given to us.”
Oronsaye also provided the attendance
page of some meetings of the committee to debunk the allegation by Ribadu that
he did not attend sittings, arguing that while people may be entitled to their
opinion, facts would always remain facts.
While rejecting the conclusions
reached by some sections of the public that he was put on the panel to
frustrate the committee’s work, the former head of service said: “Now, when
people say he (Oronsaye) was deliberately put there, put there by who? At my
age? I am over 60. It is how I will serve humanity and live my life in eternity
that is paramount. I fear no human being, I respect people, but I fear God.”
He said people who had served in
various positions in the past and those who are still in service were put on
the various task forces by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, in order for
the committees to be able to access informed data and informed information.
Disclosing that some other members
also had issues with the process, Oronsaye provided a letter dated October 30,
2012, which was written by another committee member where the writer had stated:
“The committee’s (work) assignment is factually yet to be definitively
concluded, consequently a final report, which would be the culmination of the
processes and procedures agreed and adopted by the committee cannot exist;
especially not in the format being circulated by the media both social and
print.”
He wondered why such a major
observation was disregarded and the report submitted just three days after.
He also recalled the last meeting of
the committee of the whole held on July 31, where he had raised some
observations about the activities of the panel.
He said: “It was at that meeting that
I said A, B, C, D, in my view, were my observations on the draft report. One,
figures have not been verified. Two, the figures were as of December 2011. And
I asked what had happened between then and now?
“I also said the language should be modified. I didn’t say change the
substance. I did not say so. I also said that if a hole is picked in our
report, all the efforts that had been put into the exercise would come to
naught.
“It was then agreed that a small
group would come together to look at the report again and then give it to the
subcommittee on report writing before circulating to the committee of the
whole.
“A committee was set up, but we never
received that reviewed report. What followed was that a report was leaked, I
don’t know how or by who to Reuters.”
However, in a statement yesterday by the president’s Special Adviser, Media and
Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the presidency announced the setting up of three
committees to prepare draft White Papers on the three special task forces on
the oil and gas sector that had submitted their reports to him two week ago.
The statement said that their
establishment was in furtherance of the president’s declared commitment to
doing all within his powers to ensure greater accountability, probity and
transparency in the country’s oil and gas industry.
“The committees are to study the
reports, review the issues raised, and prepare draft White Papers for the
consideration of the Federal Executive Council within two
weeks.       
“The White Paper Committee on the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force Report
will be chaired by the Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu, with the Minister
of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, Minister of State, FCT, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide,
and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs II, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed as
members.
“The White Paper Committee on the report
of the Governance and Controls Special Task Force will be chaired by the
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms. Ama Pepple. Other members
of the committee are Minister of State, Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, Minister
of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, and Minister of State for Agriculture and
Rural Development, Mallam Bukar Tijani.
“The White Paper Committee on the
report of the National Refineries Special Task Force has Minister of Mines and
Steel Development, Arc. Mohammed Sada as Chairman, and Hon. Minister of
Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of State for
Health, Dr. Muhammad Pate and Minister of State for Education, Mr. Ezenwo
Nyeson Wike, as members.”
Abati said that the Office of the
Secretary to the Government of the Federation will provide the secretariat for
the committees.
The presidency has also said that it did not intend to dump the Ribadu report
as being speculated by some people.
Speaking on the issue, Senior Special
Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said government
would take a good look at the recommendations and comprehensively verify all
data.
According to him, since the
committee, in the report, said government should conduct the necessary
verification and reconciliation before taking action on the report, it would be
wrong for the government to do otherwise.
He also clarified that there was no time either him or any government official
suggested that the report should be dumped because even though the data was yet
to be verified, there were several issues raised by the committee that would
never be swept under the carpet by the Jonathan administration.

 

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