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Jonathan: $1.8bn Oil Bloc Sale Allegation Misleading –Group

Francis Moses

Allegation making the rounds that Goodluck Jonathan, as Nigeria’s president, sold an oil bloc for $1.85b but remitted only a paltry $100 million has been dismissed as diversionary and another cheap lie from those working to tarnish the former president’s image.

Dismissing the allegation, a political action group, MoveOn Nigeria, urged those behind the allegation, to manufacture other lies instead as this will not catch on. The group charged the media, to quit misleading the public. Speaking in a statement made available to the press yesterday, MoveOn Nigeria said it was unfortunate that Nigerians now prefer to believe in mudslinging lies instead of averting themselves to the truth.

The statement signed by the group’s coordinator, Mr. Clem Aguiyi stated “we have good and evil and unfortunately we live in a country where truth has taken flight and lies are told by political elites without a pinch of shame. Sadly those spreading lies and making unsubstantiated allegations are not inspiring support for President Muhammadu Buhari”. According to him, “prior to her scheduled meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Secretary General of NEITI, MS Scot Clare, had alleged that the Federal Government under President Jonathan sold an oil block for $1.85Bn and remitted only $100m to the Federation Account.

The governing party had since been re-echoing these allegations without making any effort to verify or substantiate them”. Dismissing the claims as ‘ignorant and mischievous’, MoveOn Nigeria challenged the claimants to identify “buyer of this block and how this payment was made?” Mr. Aguiyi flayed a section of the media for aiding falsehood against the former president “because they are compromised, making it impossible for them to ask simple questions or conduct critical investigation on issues”. “The facts which remain verifiable are that at no time throughout the life of the Jonathan government was there a sale in whatever form of any oil block.

Neither was there a time Jonathan awarded an oil block to himself, family or cronies for that matter. “The fundamental questions begging for answers which the Jonathan haters are unwilling to ask are, when did the transaction take place? What OPLs/OMLs were sold? Who held/ operated the block(s) before the sale? Who bought the block(s)? Through what bank(s) was payment made?” the statement read. The group said it had carried out a detailed investigation on the matter so as to properly inform the public. “We have gone into detailed investigation to unravel the truth of the matter and have discovered that it is all a ruse, a mischief aimed at demonizing and criminalizing the former president so as to achieve a larger sinister agenda.

“It would be recalled that the country was completely paralyzed a few weeks before the May 29 handover following politically motivated strikes and protests by members of PENGASSAN and NUPENG over the purported sale of OMLs 4, 38 and 41 to some foreign interests. “PENGASSAN and NUPENG had falsely accused the then Minister for Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison–Madueke of selling the said oil blocks improperly, illegally and without due process. The Minister denied and debunked the reports saying that the facts of the matter have been jumbled up “as no sale of oil blocks took place at all. The oil blocks in question remain the assets of the Federal Government and can only be sold through an open bid and in line with extant laws and agreements’’.

MoveOn Nigeria reminds that Shell, who held the particular oil block on behalf of the Federal Government under a Joint Venture Agreement, decided to relinquish their interest and had attempted to illegally sell or transfer the oil block to a consortium of Nigerian companies and their international partners, a move the Federal Government resisted and took steps to recover the said oil blocks which it rightly transferred to NPDC, a subsidiary of NNPC. NPDC being also a government agency was asked to pay the book value of the blocks, a directive they had since complied with. Restating its position, MoveOn Nigeria coordinator challenged anybody with contrary evidence to advance them and provide answers to the questions raised.

He called on those responsible for this mischief to stop misleading Nigerians “in the interest of our evolving democracy”. The group also advised the Buhari administration to direct its anti corruption searchlight to the alarm raised by the country Executive Secretary of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), Zainab Ahmed, in which she alleged that a whopping $7.5 billion proceeds of extractive activities was unaccounted for between 1999 and 2011. “We think that is verifiable and should get the presidents immediate attention”, MoveOn Nigeria said.

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