Could he be speaking his boss’ mind?

Written by Abdul-Rahman Abubakar & Turaki A. Hassan

An adviser of President Jonathan yesterday criticised the House of Representatives subsidy inquiry report, saying the probe lacked credibility because it targeted specific individuals and shielded certain former oil ministry officials.
Ahmed Gulak, a political adviser to the president, told journalists in Abuja that the probe was skewed against incumbent officials as lawmakers failed to investigate former petroleum minister Rilwanu Lukman and former NNPC chief Mohammed Barkindo.

The subsidy inquiry covered a period spanning 2009 to 2011, and Lukman and Barkindo were in office in 2009-2010.

“Why did they not invite Rilwanu Lukman? He was the minister of petroleum resources during the period of the probe,” Gulak said at a news conference.

“Where is Mohammed Barkindo who was the Group Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the time? Where are the other key actors who were at the vanguard of the subsidy regime?

“The House of Representatives must probe these individuals before we can truly say they are doing the right thing otherwise the report will lack credibility. What is worth doing at all is worth doing well,” he added.

The House last week approved the subsidy probe recommendations, which demanded trial of top government officials for mismanagement of over N1 trillion petrol subsidy funds.

Among those blamed for the subsidy scam are the management and board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, headed by Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the defunct board of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) headed by Ahmadu Ali.

“Yes, money has been stolen in NNPC and we have to get to the root but in doing that we must go back to when it all started,” Gulak said, referring to the era of Lukman and Barkindo.

Last week, the House of Representatives said it was passing on the report to Jonathan for implementation.

But Gulak said yesterday the House was yet to send the document to the President and so there was no basis to the accusations that Jonathan was sitting on it.

“Mr. President is even the one that is saying no more stealing with the subsidy regime and that it must stop. How can he then turn around and sit on something that will help him sanitise the sector? People should not allow themselves be used to promote the political agenda of some selfish individuals,” Gulak said.

“President Jonathan is one person that wants things done and done correctly. He is the only president in the history of this country that has embarked on the cleansing of the oil and gas sector.”

But spokesman for the House of Representatives, Zakari Mohammed, yesterday said Gulak’s comments were an attempt to rubbish the report because his friends and associates were indicted by the Faruk Lawan-led committee.

Mohammed, in a reaction, said invitation by the committee was very wide and even people volunteered on their own to appear before the panel during the public hearings.

“It’s not true,” Mohammed said, referring to Gulak’s accusations.

“It is another way of rubbishing the report because a lot of their friends and associates were affected. If an adviser is saying this then it calls to question the quality of advice he offers Mr. President. We have no regrets at all because most Nigerians are behind us,” he told Daily Trust.

Farouk Lawan’s committee report indicted some of Jonathan’s allies

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