Expert Decries Corruption In Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry, Advocates Transparency -Fuel Scarcity

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An oil and gas expert, Olabode Sowunmi, has stressed the need for transparency in order to avert recurring fuel scarcity and eradicate corruption in Nigeria’s petroleum industry.

Sowunmi made the call at the maiden edition of the Center for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch (CFTIW) Twitter Spaces.

The National Assembly consultant on Oil and Gas, spoke on the theme: ‘Nigeria and Persistent Fuel Scarcity: Is Corruption the Cause?’.

He noted that until there is full transparency in the operations of the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors, curbing fuel scarcity will be farfetched.

The energy analyst said the shortage of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) has historical antecedents and was a result of a number of reasons.

Sowunmi listed underdevelopment of the value chain, rising cost of crude oil in the international market, fall of the naira vis-à-vis the dollar and peculiar culture of the petroleum industry which encourages graft.

On the inability of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to eliminate corruption and maximize the sector’s prospects, he said the PIA was only a framework that depends on institutions, structures and personnel to be effective.

“There is no problem with the PIA, laws are only guidance for operators in the system. When people break the law, it is not the fault of the law, it is now an issue for law enforcement.

“The law itself is not an almighty formula or a magic that is going to resolve everything. It is the basis for arbitration when there is disagreement on what should be done or not done”, he said.

Sowunmi reminded citizens that they have the responsibility to ask the government, law enforcement agencies and the regulators what is happening to the PIA already signed.

The Vice-Chairman, Gas-to-Power Study Group of the Nigerian Gas Association (NGA), further advocated transparency in Upstream Licensing operations.

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Sowunmi urged Nigerians to be more involved in efforts to rid the sector of corruption by initiating legal proceedings rather than just murmuring.

“When officials are not held accountable for abusing processes, corruption holds sway. An organization works within a system that produces a culture. When culture are not transparent, they tend to promote corruption”, he warned.

Sowunmi charged the authorities to tackle factors and those who encourage oil theft, while making genuine efforts to sanitize the system.

A stakeholder, Abdul Idris decried the lingering fuel scarcity and government’s lack of commitment to its promises of fixing the refineries.

Idris advised the people as well as Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to apply pressure and hold the government accountable.

CFTIW Director, Umar Yakubu said the organization embarked on campaigns aimed at ensuring openness in public service through its SACEN (Strengthening Anti-Corruption Environment in Nigeria) project.

“The Center’s Transparency and Integrity Index (TII) Report was equally launched as a pressure advocacy to demand transparency and instill a culture of integrity among public institutions.”

Yakubu enjoined other CSOs, the media and Nigerians to continue to insist on greater accountability in the Nigerian public sector so as to forestall corruption.

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