Abuja - The Presidency on Sunday in Abuja frowned at the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) for accusing it of causing the open dissension among members of the Ribadu Committee on Petroleum Revenue.
An open disagreement between members of the Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Taskforce over the process leading to the compilation of the report of the committee almost marred the presentation of the report to President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday.
The ACN, through its Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, issued a statement in which it accused the Federal Government of having an ulterior motive in setting up the Petroleum Revenue Task Force, headed by Malam Nuhu Ribadu and also, of “deliberately sabotaging” the Taskforce.
A statement by Dr Reuben Abati, the Senior Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, however, dismissed the ACN accusation, describing it as the party’s familiar pattern, ``aimed at rubbishing the good image of President Jonathan.
``The ACN statement falls into a familiar pattern by the party to seek every opportunity to insult President Goodluck Jonathan, as they write glibly about what they call `the president’s efforts to downplay the whole disagreement and give the dissenters a soft landing' and the president’s innermost thoughts on this issue.
``The drama that has been generated around the Petroleum Revenue Taskforce Report, one of three reports that were submitted to President Jonathan on Friday, Nov 2, says a lot about the attempt by others to politicise everything possible and seek cheap advantages where they need not do so.
``For the avoidance of doubt and for the benefit of the naysayers, the committees were set up as fact-finding and advisory bodies to generate ideas and recommendations about how best to strengthen the oil and gas sector and to further pursue the objectives of institutional integrity, transparency and accountability.''
According to the statement, President Jonathan remains committed to the war against corruption and every step his administration has taken has been in this direction.
It stated that President Jonathan should be commended for his mature handling of the situation and not made the target of insinuations.
``The ACN claims that Steve Oronsaye and Bernard Otti’s membership of the NNPC while serving on the Ribadu committee compromises their position.
``It is important to note that this committee and other committees had government officials and ex-staff as members.''
The statement noted that the taskforces were not set up as quasi-judicial bodies ``but as committees of wise and knowledgeable men and women who will offer useful advice and in getting such useful advice there is nothing wrong in encouraging the participation of a broad category of persons, including insiders and outsiders.
``If Lai Mohammed had done his home work, he would have discovered that there were serving government officials on the Petroleum Industry Bill Taskforce, chaired by Sen. Udo Udoma, which submitted its report in June.
``Its technical committee was chaired by Engr. Osten Olorunsola of the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR).”
It observed that the Refineries Taskforce headed by Dr Kalu Idika Kalu had all the Managing Directors of the refineries as members.
The statement said that the membership of the Ribadu Committee included representatives of the FIRS, Federal Ministry of Finance, Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice, DPR, NNPC and the Accountant General of the Federation.
Abati, therefore, advised the ACN to desist from looking for faults where there were none.