Nigeria: Reps at war over Okonjo-Iweala
By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA — CHAIRMEN of the joint committees of House of Representatives on Petroleum Upstream and Gas Resources, yesterday, warned House Committee Chairman on Finance, Rep Abdulmumin Jibrin to stop defending the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Muraino Ajibola and Chairman, Committee on Gas Resources, Bassey Ewa, in a statement declared that Jibrin should stop misleading Nigerians on happenings in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
But Jibrin in a reaction said: ”For two years I was the number one critic of the Minister of Finance, I only stated the obvious.“
The two House Committee chairmen, who co-signed the joint statement, cautioned their counterpart in Finance Committee to face his work rather than’ poke-nosing ‘into the affairs of their committees.
It would be recalled that Rep Jibrin had recently, while reacting to the call by Governor Rotimi Ameachi led Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF that the Finance Minister, Dr Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, should resign her position over her management of Nigeria’s economy had said that rather than calling on the Finance Minister to resign, the Minister of Petroleum Resources should be called to answer questions and give account of what was happening.
He had said: “It is not the Minister of Finance, Nobody knows the quantum of crude we produce per day in this country, the Minister is not giving out any information and nobody is asking her.
”By our rules, since the Petroleum Committees have primary jurisdiction on the Ministry of Petroleum and its Agencies, other Committees of the House can request for first hand information from us as the need arises.
”Unfortunately, our colleague has never taken advantage of this but is interested in projecting the Petroleum Committees as not performing their oversight functions.
”We have noted with great concern Abdulmumin’s attempt to divert Nigerians’ attention from the statement credited to the NGF on where and how the sovereign wealth fund is being managed which falls within the purview of his office as the Chairman Committee on Finance.
”It is indeed the saddest day for our democracy and it smacks of compromise that a legislator and of course the chairman of Committee on Finance of the House of Representatives is now the public relations officer of a minister.
”We would have dismissed this statement in the greater interest of protecting the image and sanctity of the House of Representatives (so that the institution will not be seen as divided against itself), but this
rejoinder has become imperative on account of the following: Abdulmumin’s press statement is an indictment that the Petroleum Committees of the House of Representatives are not performing their oversight function as required by the Rules of the House.
“There has been several similar misleading comments in the media concerning the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the NNPC by Abdulmumin Jubrin.”