Monday, 14 September 2015

Femi Otedola, Ifeanyi Uba and Jide Omokore Fingered in Multibillion Naira Kerosine Subsidy Scam

 ...How Government officals have been Conniving with them to Defraud Nigerians
+How they are making more than N80 per litre Illegally for Themselves and Associates in government

Femi Otedola
In any forward-looking society, the government makes sure that whatever it earmarks for the people gets to them. But this far from the norm in Nigeria, where the government and some selected people have been hoodwinking the people they swore to protect and serve. There has been so much going on in terms of corruption and the fact that those who perpetrate the heinous crime against the people in most cases go scot-free. The very few that are prosecuted often turn out to be those who have stepped on the toes of the corrupt powers-that-be, and the cases turn out to be mere formality, as nobody is punished. This has further encouraged the reckless plundering of the country’s sovereign wealth and reinforces the submission of a governorship candidate during the just concluded electioneering campaign, who said that “governance in the country is like a company and whoever is elected is the CEO who disburses the people’s common wealth among the various corrupt cabals just like profits are shared among shareholders.

The most corrupt sector in Nigeria is, without doubt, the petroleum industry. It is where the people are most affected, as essential daily-used products like kerosene, diesel, cooking gas and petrol are traded. Knowing full well the importance of these products, it behoves on government to make sure that there is order in their distribution, to ensure availability and affordability. And their scarcity has a more telling effect the common man, who, because of government’s inability to provide stable electricity has to power his equipment himself. It is however sad that kerosene, which should be a reprieve for the common man, is being taken advantage of by those in government in conjunction with some private companies to perpetrate fraud of unimaginable proportions against Nigerians.

Years back, at the inception of the current political dispensation, it was general knowledge that Femi Otedola’s Zenon Oil was directly involved in the importation and distribution of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK), generally called kerosene. This was attributed to his closeness to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was then the President of Nigeria. It was even alleged that the former president decided to sell the state-owned African Petroleum (AP) to Otedola, to enable him effectively distribute the allegedly highly subsidised kerosene.

During this period, kerosene was sold for N50 only at AP, while other filling stations were either out of stock or were selling for around N100 or above. In most cases, it was the retailers who received their supplies from tankers that sold the product to people at astronomically high prices. The questions now are: since it was only Otedola’s AP that Obasanjo awarded the right to import and sell at subsidised rate, where were those selling in different streets across the country getting their supply? And at how much were they getting it that warranted them selling it as high as they were doing even then?
Ifeanyi Uba

It is the general belief that the right to be the sole importer and seller of kerosene during Obasanjo’s regime was responsible for the much talked about wealth and popularity of Otedola. Investigation shows that the money committed to the subsidy suddenly made kerosene importation and supply very lucrative. Little wonder that after Obasanjo’s tenure, another company started lobbying for the lucrative kerosene business. And this turned out to be the beginning of Ifeanyi Uba’s Capital Oil and Gas incursion into the money-spinning kerosene importation and distribution.

Uba, realising how much he stood to gain, tried his luck during Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s regime when Diezani Alison-Madueke was appointed the Minister of Petroleum. Knowing that it would be very difficult to wrest the right off Otedola’s AP, he used the influence of the Petroleum Minister to introduce the concept of mobile filling stations. This was contained in an agreement signed with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the sale of kerosene directly to consumers, which was said to be a move aimed at eliminating middlemen and bringing down the price.
The agreement happened to be the beginning of a systematic approach by the then Petroleum Minister to take from Otedola the importation right and consequent wealth the subsidy brings, and to give same to her own associates. In no time at all, the contract was issued to little known SPOG Petrochemicals, a company owned by Jide Omokore, a known associate of the Minister and that opened the door for the product to be sold to the people at a price far higher that it was pegged at by the government.

Unlike the era of Otedola’s African Petroleum, which has since changed name to Fort Oil, andb Ifeanyi Uba’s Capital Oil and Gas, which both sold and still sell to consumers through their filling stations and customised tankers otherwise known as mobile filling stations, Jide Omokore’s SPOG has nowhere to sell directly to consumers. It only sells to other companies that run filling stations. And that  is the reason the controlled price of N50 in some filling stations has since disappeared.

Findings revealed that a sum of $3.38 billion was spent on kerosene subsidy in the country between January 2012 and July 2013. But the people never got the product for anything less than N130 per litre during the stated period. This invariably means that some elements in the government and Mr. Omokore and associates were able to pocket more fantastic sums of money for a service they did not render to Nigerians.

Jide Omokore
The Federal House of Representatives in its investigation into the petroleum sector of the country revealed that the government claimed that subsidy to the tune N101 per litre is paid on kerosene while the country makes use of an average of 9,000,000 litres of kerosene per day, the figure gives an average of N909 million paid on subsidy per day to make the product available to the people at N50 instead of the N130 – N150 that is obtainable today even in filling stations.

While the people are suffering based on the hardship they undergo because of the high cost of kerosene, some individuals like Femi Otedola, Ifeanyi Uba, Jide Omokore and others are smiling to the bank at the expense of Nigerians.

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