Investigations by our reporter show that the White Paper Committee, which President Goodluck Jonathan on November 14 gave two weeks within which to submit its report exists only in name. Not only has it not begun sitting, its members may have departed for the Christmas holiday to return in the second week of January.
The committee is headed by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu.
Other members are the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro; Minister of State, FCT, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide; and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs II: Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed.
A key member of the committee told our reporter in Abuja on Friday, that there was nothing on ground to suggest that there was anything to show that government was serious about the report.
The member said, “We have not met; there is nothing to suggest that we are going to meet and take any position on the matter.
“Going by the terms of reference, we ought to have submitted our report since end of November. But, you are aware that even the Federal Executive Council is on break and will not resume until second Wednesday of January 2013.
“Government knows what it is doing when it sets up the committee and it is the same government that is not asking us for any report.”
Efforts to speak with Wogu were not successful. When our reporter visited his house at Asokoro on Friday, one of guards said the minister had travelled outside the Federal Capital Territory on holidays.
It was further learnt that the minister left at about 9am for his home state, Abia, where he will be observing the Christmas break.
The Ribadu committee report, as submitted to President Jonathan, bitterly criticized the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation for various economic crimes against the nation.
It added that that oil majors such as Total, Eni and Shell made bumper profits from cut-price gas, while Nigerian oil ministers handed out licenses at will.
Though not illegal, the report however added that the action did not follow due process of using open bids.
Apart from that, the report added that international oil traders sometimes buy crude without any formal contracts, and the state oil firm had short-changed the Nigerian treasury of billions of Naira over the last 10 years by selling crude oil and gas to itself below market rates.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, subsequently indicated that the Ribadu report would be discarded when he said it had failed to accomplish the most critical duty assigned to it.
It has also since been discovered that Mr. Wogu, whom Mr. Jonathan assigned to head the White Paper Committee, is himself a beneficiary of a N2.7b oil subsidy fraud through his shady Pinnacle Contractors company.