Petroleum Ministry debunks report on N500m PIB Publicity Funds

diezaninewThe Petroleum Ministry has reacted furiously to reports that it could not account for N500million PIB publicity funds, saying the reports were untrue.A statement by Kingsley Agha, director, information (press and public relations ) in the ministry said the “publication is a total distortion of what transpired at the sitting of the Senate Gas Committee on Tuesday 4th March 2014.
According to him “ The Gas Committee Chaired by Senator Nkechi Nwaogu, was for Budget hearing dealing with the Ministry’s gas project as can be seen in the name of the Committee. The reporters carefully and deliberately ignored the main subject of the Sitting and delved into a subject the Committee only mentioned in passing. Disparaging the character and person of the Permanent Secretary, Danladi Kifasi as being incompetent to explain the Ministry’s Budget.
Giving his version of what transpired ,Agha said “The Permanent Secretary had informed the Committee that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources did not implement any gas project because they lack the expertise to carry the construction works hence his decision to transfer the Vote to the NNPC where the necessary expertise is domiciled.
“At this point, the Committee at the instance of the Permanent Secretary, invited Mr. Ige, the Executive Director Gas, NNPC to speak. In his presentation, the Executive Director, Gas NNPC, Mr. Ige was commended by the Committee for the huge success registered in the Gas Sector. Mr. Ige not only gave time lines but unveiled the various PPP arrangements put in place to save government from the huge capital inflow required in the gas sector. The reporters ignored this laudable presentation and capitalized on an aside – — a one line comment that came from the Chairman who wanted to know the full meaning of PIB. The Permanent Secretary explained that the PIB stands for the Petroleum Industry Bill and that the Vote allocated to this programme is for sensitization, advocacy in the print and electronic media as well as billboards and purchase of vehicles. He jokingly added that these vehicles
can even convey the distinguished Senators to the North East part of the country. A joke the Vice Chairman of the Committee chuckled at and asked the Permanent Secretary why he is particular about the North East and the Permanent Secretary responded that he is from that part of the country. That ended all references and discussions on the PIB.

He asked “Now where did these reporters hear of the misappropriation of the N500 million and at what point in that meeting was the Permanent Secretary described as incompetent to defend the budgetary allocation of the Ministry. These reporters are not only mischievous, callous but have succeeded in totally assassinating the character of a man of honour and repute, a Permanent Secretary who also served in the Ministry of Finance where the entire financial matters of this nation is domiciled and he is also a Chartered Accountant and a
Lawyer. We demand full retraction and apology from these Newspapers and Reporters.

He alleged that “the said reporters were not present at the Sitting of the Committee, (only) one of (them) made a brief entrance for less than 10 minutes during the entire sitting. The only reporter present from the inception of the sitting was from one of the Television stations. We have also a copy of the tape of the entire proceedings and it will be aired at the appropriate time.

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