Albni advocates sack of minister over comments on recovery of $62b from IOCs

THE Accountable Leadership for Better Nigeria Initiative, Albni, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources over his comments on “why FG can’t recover $62 Billion from International Oil Companies”.

In a statement by Remi Adebayo, Executive Director, Albni, on Sunday, Oct. 20, said that the attention of the organization had been drawn to the statement credited to Mr. Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for the Petroleum Resources, published in Vanguard Newspaper of Thursday October 17, 2019 on ‘why FG can’t recover $62 billion from International Oil Companies, OICs’.

It added that Sylva told State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, that “the duly calculated $62 billion, now owed to Nigeria by the oil companies, ‘Let us consider that as a lost opportunity, the money was not in a cupboard, they have taken it. Nobody can bring out that kind of money. I mean we can’t get $62 billion”.

“If the above statement was indeed made by Mr. Timipre Sylva, then His Excellency, Mr. President ought to relieve him of his duties forthwith as Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. It is unbecoming of a minister to assume the role of the mouthpiece and insider representative of the oil companies against the economic development of Nigeria and against the Federal Government’s fight against corruption and economic sabotage,” it said.

It noted that since 2003 when the price of crude oil exceeded $20 per barrel, real terms, the oil companies involved in deep offshore contracts with the Federal Government represented by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, have plundered Nigeria’s economy by surreptitiously colluding with regulatory insiders in the oil and gas industry to avoid adjusting the share of the federation in the additional revenue accruing under the production sharing contracts all through the years and up till today.

It recalled that in a consent judgment in SC/964/2016 between Mr. Timipre Sylva’s Bayelsa State, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States Versus the Federation, the Supreme Court of Nigeria on 17 October 2018 ordered the federal government of Nigeria, ‘to adjust the share of the Government of the Federation in the additional revenue under all the production sharing contracts in Nigeria’s oil industry with the Inland Basin and Deep Offshore areas as approved by the federal government from the respective times the price of crude oil exceeded twenty dollars ($20.00 USD) per barrel in real terms and to calculate in arrears with effect from August 2003 and recover and pay immediately all outstanding statutory allocations due and payable to the states arising from the said adjustments.

“The above is a clear order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria which, the federal government of Nigeria and the entire federation are the ultimate beneficiaries and which every person, including the Minister of State for petroleum is bound to obey and enforce.

“Accordingly, the Niger Delta born Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva cannot through his statement overrule the Supreme Court on a debt already recognized by the apex court and ordered to be recovered.

“As directed by the Supreme Court, the Federal Government on 3 December 2018 set up a joint committee comprising the best technical, accounting and legal experts to calculate and advice the federal government of the outstanding and unpaid difference inclusive of interests over the years owed by the oil companies to Nigeria.

“The outstanding legitimate accruals and interests in the utmost best interests of Nigeria have been duly calculated and due to be paid by the oil companies to Nigeria.

“It is therefore surprising that a junior Minister in the same government will say that the Federal Government of Nigeria have embarked on a wild goose chase and that it will be impossible for the federal government to recover the debt now legitimately ascertained as ordered by the highest court of the land,” the statement said.

The organization explained that Mr. Timipre Sylva was Special Adviser to the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr. Edmund Maduabebe Daukoru at a time when this debt arose in favour of the federal government and when he should have advised his boss at the material time to recover this debt from the oil companies, but he neglected and shut his eyes against this obligation and against the economic interests and development of Nigeria.

“It is therefore a cause for grave concern that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources who swore an oath to defend the interests of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will turn round to say it will be impossible for the federal government to recover the outstanding debts.

“It is doubtful that the Honourable Minister was reported or quoted correctly, but in the event that he was quoted correctly that will be most irresponsible – a slap on the face of a government he is part of which initiated the recovery process for the overall interest of the country in general and his own state, Bayelsa in particular. Which way Nigeria?” the statement added.

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