Permanent Secretary of the ministry Danladi Kifasi, who said this during the 2014 budget defence of the ministry before the Senate Committee on Gas, could not explain the details of the expenditure because, according to him, he was new to the ministry.
Kifasi, who represented the Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, was posted to the ministry in August last year from Ministry of Finance.
He explained that from the records he met at the ministry, the N500 million was expended on radio and television jingles, newspaper advertisements and monitoring vehicles but failed to provide details to the legislators.
Senator Bello Tukur (PDP, Adamawa) queried the involvement of the ministry in the PIB campaign since the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is the agency driving the passage of the bill.
However, the ministry’s Director, Public Relations and Press, Mr. Kingsley Agha, said the ministry was not actually given the opportunity to explain the details of the expenditure.
He said there were evidence all over the country that the fund was used for the mounting of bill boards in strategic locations in the major cities of the country, as well as proof that part of the funds were used for radio and television campaigns.
Mr. Kifasi also told the senators that the sum of $3.16 billion was allocated to the ministry for capital projects for gas infrastructure in the 2013 budget, out of which $1.7 billion was released to the ministry.
The proposed petroleum law has been in the waiting list for about seven years since it was presented to the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the committee also queried officials of the Petroleum Training Institute, Effurum, Delta State, over their inability to account for a training vessel ordered for the institute five years ago.
The committee sought to know from the management of PTI the status of the diving support vessel meant for the training of students at the institute but the officials said appropriation was last made for the ship in 2011 and it has taken up to N200 million to maintain it.
“The ship is supposed to be used for training. How they are doing the training now we don’t know. The institute is apparently not doing well,” Senator Paulker said.
The contract for the diving support vessel was awarded to Netsach Limited and partly paid for in 2009 during the late President Umaru Yar’adua’s administration.
In a separate development, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has said that the current fuel scarcity across the country is not likely to end soon because of shortfall in supply due to the non-renewal of contracts of some independent marketers to import the product.