OPENING ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR (DR.) ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, ON THE OCCASION OF A PUBLIC HEARING BY THE SENATE JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE NEED TO INVESTIGATE THE PRE-SHIPMENT INSPECTION OF EXPORT ACTIVITIES IN NIGERIA, ON MONDAY 20TH FEBRUARY, 2017.
It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this investigative public hearing organized by a Joint Committee of the Senate Committees on Finance, Trade and Investment, Gas, Petroleum Upstream, Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, and Customs, Excise and Tariff on the “Need to Investigate Pre Shipment Inspection of Export Activities in Nigeria.
Today’s Public Hearing was prompted by a motion moved on the floor of the Senate by Distinguished Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf on Thursday 21st July, 2016.
The motion was well received by the Senate and the content of the motion clearly revealed that there has been gross violation of the Pre-shipment Inspection of Export Act by certain Institutions of Government. The 8th Senate has been focused from the onset as adopted in our Legislative Agenda in taking steps targeted at reforming critical sectors and Institutions of the Nigerian economy with the aim of delivering transparency and accountability in government through legislative measures.
Nigeria is a country with some well drafted and interpretable laws but overtime it has become very easy to break these Laws because institutions which are meant to enforce compliance are not alive to their responsibilities. Section 11 of the Pre Shipment Inspection of Export Act clearly states that “An exporter of goods, including petroleum products, shall open, maintain and operate a foreign currency domiciliary account in Nigeria into which shall be paid all exports proceeds corresponding to the entire proceeds of the exports concerned’, and Article 26 of the Guidelines provide thus that:
a. Within 90 days from the date of export, all exporters (whether oil, gas or non-oil) shall ensure that the export proceeds are repatriated and credited into their domiciliary account opened with a bank in Nigeria.
b. It is the responsibility of the Central Bank of Nigeria to monitor the repatriation of all export proceeds.
Distinguished Senators and invited Guests, it is worth reminding ourselves that Nigeria faces challenging economic recession at the moment and as patriots we must do all within our constitutional powers to plug the leakages in the system. It is therefore worrisome as revealed in the motion that the Joint Venture Oil Companies have refused to repatriate crude oil export proceeds of over $850 billion between 1996 to 2014 which is in total contravention of the Pre-shipment Inspection of Export Act and Article 26 of Export Policy Guidelines and procedures for crude oil, Gas and non-oil goods.
If the country is good for doing business it simply means the laws of the country must also be respected. Whoever is found culpable will be brought to book no matter how highly placed because the monies involved is enough to tackle the infrastructural challenges all over Nigeria.
There is a frightening consensus that if we do not kill corruption as a country, corruption will kill Nigeria. After so many years of circumventing the process, the 8th Senate is in a hurry to move the country forward, through legislative intervention in order to reverse the abject penury that has become the norm for the majority. As leaders across board, we must be sacrificial in our various duty posts and build a great country for the unborn generation by ensuring we fully comply with the laws of the land. If we keep manipulating the process while carrying out activities of government, it will be very difficult to take Nigeria out of the woods.
This Public Hearing is therefore an opportunity for the Senate to open the books, listen to the Ministries, Department and Agencies of Government involved and the Joint Venture Oil Companies as well as concerned stakeholders who have come to provide useful information for today’s deliberation.
It is expected that at the end of this hearing, a clearer picture of what has been going wrong, what we have not done well and what we need to do right will be made known.
On this note I now declare today’s Public Hearing open.
Thank you for listening.
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE