By Chris Iwarah
Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, yesterday dismissed claims that she endorsed N24 billion crude oil swap transactions without contract.
Her denial came barely 24 hours after the House of Representatives invited her to appear before it on March 2 to explain her role in the controversial deals.
In a statement issued by her spokesman, Mr. Clem Aguiyi, the former minister, who is now undergoing treatment for cancer in London, debunked reports claiming that she granted an “extension” instead of “approval” for the renewal of the oil swap deals.
She described the allegations as a fabrication of lies to sustain a plan to tarnish her image.
The former minister insisted that she gave “approvals for renewal of contracts for firstly, a one year term each for both Messrs Trafigura Beheer BV and Messrs Society Ivoirienne de Raffinage (SIR) in August 2010 and then for a two-year term in August 2011 for the same companies.”
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) subsidiary, Duke Oil, she added, was given approval for one year in January 2011.
She said: “Two other approvals were consequently sought by the GMD, NNPC. The first of these on August 29, 2014 was seeking to ratify all three aforementioned approvals, which had apparently expired in 2013. In view of the criticality of the situation, the minister immediately approved/ratified all three renewals. Expiry dates of those terms were put at December 31, 2014, following assurances to the minister that the contractual obligations of the parties to NNPC had in fact, been fully met, despite the regrettable lapse in renewal time. The minister noted the said lapses in expiration to renewal dates to be seven months for Duke Oil, 10 months for SIR and 12 months for Trafigura.
“Secondly, on October 28, 2014, following the recommendation of the then GMD, NNPC, the minister approved OPAs for a new term of two years commencing from January 1, 2015. The entities recommended by NNPC were Sahara Energy Resources Ltd, Aiteo Energy and Duke Oil. NNPC strongly recommended and outlined the benefits of the OPA over the SWAPs and put forward the case for migration from the OPA and crude exchange (SWAP) contracts to OPAs fully. NNPC posited that the ‘experienced benefits of the OPA to the federation’ would be much greater.
“All approvals were due process-driven and were only given by the minister following formal statutory written requests, which contained the technical basis for the renewal and were sent to the minister by the GMD-NNPC, as is the normal practice. NNPC had clearly requested for the approval of the honorable minister for ‘renewal of the crude oil-refined products exchange agreement’ and “renewal of offshore processing agreement’ on all the various occasions outlined earlier…
Former Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Joseph Dawah, had told the House committee investigating the oil deals he inherited.
Dawah said the NNPC entered into the contracts with the companies to terminate between 2013 and 2014. He, however, said Alison-Madueke only approved the renewal of the contracts in August 2014, months after their expiration.