Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) wishes to clarify its earlier statement that the Group Executive Director, Finance of NNPC, Mr. Isiaka Abdulrazaq, had claimed at a recent meeting with NEITI that the assignment of eight oil blocks by NNPC to one of its subsidiaries, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), was not transparent and would be investigated.
NEITI wishes to state categorically that Mr. Abdulrazaq did not say that the transaction was not transparent; neither did he say the new NNPC Management would investigate the transaction. It was a discussion about the full payment of the consideration for the divestment and some reconciliation issues flagged in the finalized 2013 NEITI Audits that occasioned the mix-up.
It would be recalled that the divestment of the eight blocks to NPDC was highlighted in the 2012 independent NEITI Audit Report. The report disclosed that the oil blocks were divested by the NNPC to NPDC during the period covered by its 2012 Audit at the cost of $1.8 Billion, of this amount, only $100 million was paid.
In a communication with NEITI over the weekend, the NNPC GED reiterated what he had said to the NEITI team when asked about the divestment to NPDC: “the decision (to assign the oil blocks) was consistent with the desire of the NNPC to build the capacity of its subsidiary, the NPDC, to compete favourably in the oil and gas industry as a flagship exploration and production national company. Although the investment decision was made years before the new NNPC team came on board, it was made in accordance with the powers vested in the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.”
On the concerns of NEITI on transparency issues in the national oil company that predated the new management of NNPC, Mr. Abdulrazaq further explained that “serious and concerted engagements were in progress between the top echelon of the new team in NNPC, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to determine the assets, goods and valuable considerations”.
“I NEVER said what was quoted (in NEITI’s press statement),” he added. “The NNPC values its relationship with NEITI and whilst there are areas where we may professionally disagree as agencies, unbridled and misleading press releases do nothing other than fan the flames of media sensationalism at the expense of the credible work that NEITI as an agency is normally associated with.”
An internal review by NEITI has confirmed that Mr. Abdulrazaq was quoted out of context and was misrepresented in our earlier statement. This statement provides the needed correction and clarification. The mix-up is regretted.
Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, PhD