THE fuel subsidy scandal appears to be too big a ‘family affair’ for the Peoples Democratic Party. THE PUNCH learnt that the party had encountered difficulties in its bid to douse the scandal.
Already, there are indications that some chieftains of the PDP are concerned that the House of Representatives’ panel report would have an adverse effect on the fortunes of the party in the 2015 general elections.
Leaders of the PDP, who spoke with The PUNCH on the condition of anonymity at the weekend, indicated that the mismanagement of the subsidy fund involved too many members of the party.
“Our concern is that if we intervene to save indicted members of the party, it could boomerang.
“Already, people are lambasting the PDP over the indictment of a former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, in London. Ibori was discharged in Nigeria. If we go-ahead and treat the subsidy report as a family affair, Nigerians will descend on us,” a member of the party’s National Working Committee told one of our correspondents at the weekend.
Another top member of the PDP, who asked not to be named, said the “scandal can enrage the citizens and make them to work against our party in future elections if we do not tread softly.”
The PDP’s senior officials are billed for a meeting on Monday (today) to discuss the House panel report and decide on what would be its response to the scandal. The party chiefs might also devise strategies to counter the negative effects of the report on the party.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisah Metuh, confirmed to one our correspondents on the telephone on Sunday that the PDP would meet today.
The party has not reacted to the scandal though opposition parties and other stakeholders have condemned the fraud as exposed by the House panel.
The PDP NWC member, who spoke to The PUNCH, said the party would take its time to react to the fuel subsidy scandal.
“Our concern is how to appropriately respond to the scandal in which many of our members are involved and that is why we have been keeping quiet,” he said.
The source added that some of the top people indicted in the report were serving ministers and others who are nursing senatorial and governorship ambitions.
Although the report has not been discussed by the NWC, our correspondents gathered that its (NWC) members were divided on how the report should be handled.
It was gathered some of the NWC members had been trying to persuade their party members in the committee to intervene and save the indicted party men and women.
The NWC member, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said, “Those who hold this view are saying that there is no way the party will not be affected, if members mentioned in the report are left to their fate.”
The source said that if implemented, the House committee report would affect several members of the PDP in high places.
However, a source told one of our correspondents that the Presidency and the leadership of the PDP were hoping to use the Senate Committee as “their joker to rubbish the findings of the lower chamber.”
“The plan is that they want to delay implementation until after the Senate concludes its probe. You know that the Senate is also looking at the same subsidy issue.
“The reason is clear. If they implement the report as it is, my brother, so many top PDP members will be bruised.
“Apart from the top members of PDP who held strategic positions in the PPPRA, the NNPC or the Ministry of Petroleum, several others will be affected.
“Many of the indicted oil firms are owned by members of the PDP, and that explains why the PDP cannot rush to comment on the committee’s report.
“You know also that you cannot touch the board of the PPPRA without touching the Minister of Petroleum. Also, a PDP governor was also mentioned.”
The House committee that probed the oil subsidy regime in the country submitted its report last week. A major highlight of the report is that the subsidy administration is heavily compromised.
As a result, the committee recommended that a total of N1.7bn be refunded by some government agencies, including the NNPC, PPPRA, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and 72 firms.
In addition, the House panel recommended that the refund should be made within three months and that the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, be invited to investigate and prosecute culprits.
Already, opposition political parties and other stakeholders have asked for the prosecution of the affected individuals, agencies and companies.