SENATE yesterday summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, to throw light on the $15billion proposed Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Indian government in the oil and gas sector. It also wants the minister to explain the details of the over $80billion MoU he signed with Chinese firms in the same sector in June this year. These were sequel to a motion titled “The need for a detailed explanation of the $15billion proposed investment with Indian government and over $80billion MoU signed by the Minister of State for Petroleum with Chinese firms,” sponsored by Senator Clifford Odia (PDP Edo Central). The upper chamber said that the minister should appear before its joint committee on Petroleum Upstream, Gas and Foreign Affairs to proffer a detailed explanation of the subject matter of each of the MoU signed in China and the proposed MoU with India and their anticipated impact on the country’s economy. Senator Ordia in his lead debate drew the attention of the Senate that the Minister of State for Petroleum negotiated a $15billion investment with India where the
India government would make an upfront payment to Nigeria for crude oil purchase. The lawmaker told the Senate that the two countries had agreed to sign a MoU to facilitate investments by India in the Nigerian oil and gas sector and specifically in areas such as refining, oil and gas marketing, upstream ventures, development of gas infrastructure and the training of oil and gas personnel in the country. He noted that the minister also carried out a road-show in China where an MoU worth over $80 billion to be spent on investments in oil and gas infrastructure, pipe lines, refineries, power, facility refurbishment and upstream financing spanning five years were signed with Chinese companies. Senator Ordia listed the Chinese firms involved in the MoU to include China North Industries Corporation, NORINCO Group; China Cinda Asset Management Company Limited, CINDA, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, China Petroleum, China Petroleum & amp, Chemical Corporation/ Addax Petroleum and International Chamber of Commerce/ China National Development and Reform Commission. He observed that outside the MoUs for $80billion investment, the two largest oil companies in China, Sinopec and CNOOC, signed investment MoUs with the minister committing the companies to further investments in the country’s upstream oil sub-sector to the tune of $20billion. Senate Leader Ali Ndume wanted to know whether the minister has the power to endorse any MoU involving billions of dollars without the participation and endorsement of the National Assembly. Senator Abdullahi Adamu explained that what the minister did was “a mere intention that has not matured,” noting that when the deal matured, the National Assembly would be brought into it. Senate President Bukola Saraki thanked the movers of the motion for drawing attention of the Senate to the MoU, saying that the essence of the motion was to ensure transparency in a matter that involved future investment in the oil and gas sector of the country. “The Implementation Monitoring Committee, IMC, clearly wrote in one of its letters to the Ministry of Education that it is not satisfied with the level of accountability on the N30billion. “So, a letter was sent to the Ministry of Finance since March that the forensic audit to account for that money has not been done. They said no other further disbursement can be made except the money that was given is accounted for as clearly spelt out in the agreement. “We then said, wait, the fact that the forensic audit was not carried out was not the fault of ASUU. So we then agreed that for the exercise to be conducted, it was estimated by experts that it would take six months to conclude the exercise. “Then we said look, it will be unfair to ask ASUU to wait without being paid while the exercise is being carried out. We said ASUU should be paid N1billion every month while the forensic audit exercise is being carried out. “ASUU said they will not take N1billion. We now asked ASUU to accept N1.5billion while the exercise is being concluded. ASUU said they will go back and consult with their members and that they are going to get back to us. “Therefore, we are waiting for ASUU to get back to us but definitely the meeting may take place on Thursday so that we can thrash out the only one remaining issue, since we don’t have the luxury of time on our side. The Senate wants all contending issues to be resolved within the shortest time possible so as to keep the academic calendar running smoothly in all our universities,” he said.

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