The Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) has flagged irregularities in the ongoing petroleum lease renewal process.
The committee chair, Senator Tayo Alasoadura (APC, Ondo) sought the go-ahead of the Senate to investigate the issue. He alleged that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu and the Department of Petroleum Resources are the masterminds of the fraud.
What the Senators are saying
– Leases of companies that “brazenly and illegally refused to pay royalties due to government from oil and gas lifted” are being renewed. These irregularities could deny the government over “$10 Billion as a result of illegal discounts and rebates in the process of lease renewal,” said Alasoadura.
– Another Senator, Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) said that the Minister’s actions “contravene the law.” He said the panel should invite the minister and other officials in the petroleum minister to clarify.
The Buhari Angle:
Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara, APC) believes that someone else is pulling the strings and Kachikwu could not possibly take those decisions he has been accused of unilaterally.
He pointed fingers at President Buhari’s Chief of Staff Abba Kyari as the puppet master. Ibrahim said: “We are aware that the Minister of State, ordinarily, does not have final approval of this type of cases; there’s a board of the NNPC. It is in the rumour mill that the Chief of Staff to the president is a member of the board and literally in charge of the ministry and NNPC. Let us expand those to be called, maybe the board. So that the Minister of State will not just come and say he is not the one in charge.”
Take a deep dive: An investigation by The Punch newspaper revealed the owners of Oil assets involved in the ongoing lease renewals.