A statement by Presidency spokesman Reuben Abati said: “The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) through its Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has issued a statement in which it accuses the Federal Government of having an ulterior motive in setting up the Petroleum Revenue Task Force headed by Malam Nuhu Ribadu and also, of “deliberately sabotaging” the task force. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The statement falls into a familiar pattern by the party as they write glibly about what they call “the President’s efforts to downplay the whole disagreement and give the dissenters a soft landing”, and the President’s “innermost thoughts on this issue.
“The drama that has been generated around the Petroleum Revenue Task Force Report, one of three reports that were submitted to President Jonathan on Friday, says a lot about the attempt by others to politicise everything possible and seek cheap advantages where they need not do so. For the avoidance of doubt, and for the benefit of the naysayers, the committees were set up as fact-finding and advisory bodies, to generate ideas and recommendations about how best to strengthen the oil and gas sector and to further pursue the objectives of institutional integrity, transparency and accountability. President Jonathan remains committed to the war against corruption and every step his administration has taken has been in this direction, and that has not changed.
“The Presidency deplores the attempt by the ACN to accuse it of having had a hand in the open dissension among members of the Ribadu Committee. The disagreements during the presentation were as surprising as they were sudden. President Jonathan should be commended for his mature handling of the situation, and not made the target of silly insinuations.
“The ACN claims that Steve Oronsaye and Bernard Otti’s membership of the NNPC while serving on the Ribadu committee compromises their position. It is important to note that this committee and other committees had government officials, and ex-staff as members. They were not set up as quasi-judicial bodies but as committees of wise and knowledgeable men and women who would offer useful advice and in getting such useful advice there is nothing wrong in encouraging the participation of a broad category of persons including insiders and outsiders.”