HOW PUBLIC OFFICIALS HIDE UNDER CONFERENCES TO WASTE PUBLIC FUNDS

Most members of the Federal Government’s delegation to the annual Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, holding in Houston, Texas, United States, go for private businesses, even with their trips are paid for with public funds.

A top Federal Government official, who did not want his name mentioned, told our correspondent at this year’s conference that available reports showed that many of the delegates to the event, believed to be the world’s biggest gathering of oil and gas as well as maritime sector stakeholders, come for ulterior and selfish motives.

He said that most of them disappear immediately on arrival in the US to pursue private businesses, stressing that only about 25 per cent of them are actually present at any of the venues of the four-day event.

“Look around this auditorium, how many Nigerian government officials are here for the opening ceremony of the event, which is the most important of all the four days,” the official said. The aggrieved official took a swipe at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, which he said had turned the event to an annual jamboree, with several billions of taxpayers’ money squandered yearly.

He said the corporation had not used the several opportunities presented by the event for the benefit of the oil and gas sector in the country. “One would have expected that at the end of each year’s event, the corporation comes up with a report on the proceedings and activities at the global conference in which over 2,000 government and private organisations are in attendance and make a review to better the lot of the Nigerian industry,” he said.

The official argued that if the NNPC, especially in the last four years, had generated any report on its past experiences and findings from the annual global event, it would have been able to come up with a roadmap on how to improve the country’s oil and gas industry.

“It is not proper for anybody to spend this quantum of public funds attending such an event for several years without a report. “This leaves one with the impression that the event is a jamboree, where Nigerian government officials come and squander public funds and go back without learning anything concrete from their attendance,” the source said.

NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, had, while addressing newsmen during the opening ceremony of the conference on Monday, said that Nigerian oil and gas community at the fourday event came basically to display the technology available in the sector in Nigeria and also tap from latest technology globally. He said that there had been increase in the volume of the nation’s crude and petroleum products, boosting the prospects of investment in the sector.

Yakubu, while declaring the Nigerian stand open on behalf of Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, called on the international community to take advantage of the huge investment opportunities in the industry in the country.

He said that the nation’s industry was very central and strategic to the global industry, but regretted that indigenous participation in the sector had not been high enough.

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