Nigerian senators are calling for an immediate investigation into the country's oil ministry.
Senator Ibrahim Musa of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said Wednesday that Nigeria’s President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari should launch a thorough probe into the activities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other parastatals (quasi-government organizations) as soon as the new president is sworn into office.
General Buhari is scheduled to be installed at the end of May.
Several Nigerian local media organizations have over the years complained about perception of corruption against President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. They especially single out the Petroleum Minister and head of NNPC, Diezani Alison-Madueke as the poster child for what they describe as endemic corruption in the oil ministry.
Musa says there are indications the outgoing government was not a good steward of the governance and power entrusted to them by Nigerians.
“All the Nigerian people are eager and are calling on the president-elect to commence a thorough investigation of the finances of NNPC, because a lot of damage has been done to the account of the NNPC," he said. "Not only the APC senators, but [also] all the masses of this country are yearning for that investigation.”
But some supporters of the outgoing ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have questioned the rationale behind the inquiry demands. They contend that activities of the NNPC have been investigated by both local and international auditing groups, which uncovered little to no evidence of any financial improprieties.
Musa, however, says the investigation should be expanded to include other government institutions so the new administration can begin on a clean slate.
“Not only NNPC, there are a lot of other parastatals that are to be investigated. I know the damage is so much that nobody can ignore the damage," he said. "No incoming president can ignore the damage not even General Buhari. Any person that is elected apart from Jonathan would have to conduct that investigation.”
Supporters of Diezani Alison-Madueke say the APC is on a witch-hunt. But, Musa denied the call for the investigation is geared towards the persecution of former ministers.
“No, it is never a witch-hunt but it must be done. Because the damage done to the Nigerian economy is too much to ignore,” he said.
“Even if it were to be another [president], he must have to conduct that investigation. The whole issue of governance during the administration of Jonathan is a total mess,” said Musa. “We are not witch-hunting Diezani, no. Anybody saying that is misconceiving the issue. Not Diezani alone, the whole administration is a mess.”
Musa says those found guilty of embezzling state funds or committing financial malfeasance should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.