The House of Representatives has expressed reservation over the capacity of the present managers of the nation’s oil and gas industry to reposition the sector.
Nigeria’s House of Representatives in session
The lawmakers’ position followed the failure of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ibe Kachikwu to provide satisfactory answers to questions during an ongoing investigation on oil swap arrangement.
The Minister drew the anger of the Committee following his repeated attempt to evade questions with vague answers on how beneficial was the oil swap arrangement.
The Committee also asked the Minister to inform it on the extent due process was adhered to during the bidding process, in addition to what might have led to the circumstances that determined the agreements at the time.
The Committee however lost its patience with the Kachikwu, when he asked his surbodinates not to commit themselves to figures they were not sure about when responding to Committee questions.
The Minister was reminded that he was on oath and needed to take responsibility, even as he was new on the job, that his posture might not help the Committee in its assignment.
He was also told that he has the advantage of subordinates at his disposal to assist in furnishing him with necessary information rather than put the Committee on a tight spot.
Kachikwu, who disclosed that the country has stopped paying subsidy for fuel from paying over N1 trillion in 2015, however insisted that he could only offer what he was sure of, saying “I was invited here without adequate preparation and without notes.
“There is nothing I have said here that does not show cooperation. Being under oath, I won’t give you what I don’t have facts about, what I expect you to ask from us are documents that we can provide later that will assist this process.”
He later assured the Committee of his cooperation in the investigation.
At this point, the Committee reminded him that the invitation letter was explicit about the issue on the table.
The Committee however mandated the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to find out whether a Netherland company, Trafigura Ltd, a non-resident oil trading company complied with Nigeria’s tax laws having lifted 12.5 million metric tons of crude oil in the swap arrangement without paying relevant taxes.
The Committee was surprised that Nigerian companies that were involved in the same arrangement paid their taxes while a foreign company would prefer to short change the country where it was doing business.