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Adefunke Kasali, the immediate past executive secretary of the Petroleum Equalisation Management Fund (PEF),  says  that the board under her leadership saved  Nigerian the loss of $2billion (N400 billion) through the Project Aquila, which is “a high-tech electronic loading and delivery system introduced by PEF to check leakages in the system, as well as enthrone transparency and due process,”

The new initiative, also known as ‘e-loading’ ensures the delivery of petroleum products to the right destination by checkmating the activities of unscrupulous petroleum tanker drivers who indulged in illegitimate activities such as diversion of some petroleum products to unspecified destinations.

According to her, PEF initiated the Project Aquila to eliminate corruption and ensure prompt payment of bridging cost of transporting petrol to different parts of the country and ensure the removal of encumbrances that distort payment of bridging claims. “Just look at the way we designed the business, we saved $2 billion upfront because we wrote the codes in house and how about all the tens of billions we have saved that people used to claim. There was a time when we stopped N847 million worth of fake ticket and all the ones we have been saving ever since and we thank God for that,” she said

Kasali also refuted claims that the board was underpaying some marketers or delaying their payment, saying that the PEF had been consistent in paying the right claims due to marketers.“Those who are complaining are those that the robust Project Aquila has blocked their old ways of milking the system and are uncomfortable with the new measures imposed to check past abuses. If any marketer said he was not paid it means we could not confirm that they were loaded so if somebody said his claim has been stocked it means that they were not loaded,” she added.

Kasali explained PEF has cleansed the entire system. “We have cleansed the downstream system, we went from a manual system of operation where it took between 16 or 18 months before claim is paid to where we pay in two or four weeks. The system of giving 10 or 15 per cent before you collect your cheque is gone. Central Bank of Nigeria gave us award in 2013. We were the agency that the government understudied to direct all federal government agencies of government to commence e-payment because PEF did it and we have been recognised for it,” she said.

Asabe Ahmed, the new executive secretary of PEF promised to continue her good works. “I can see a team of highly motivated professional and the efficiency I have seen in the system is due to all of you. I have come to carry on from where she has left off because the good things that are happening here is the efficiency that has been brought about by the system put in place,” she said, adding that “not a whole lot is going to change in terms of process that is already in place, I can only build on the outstanding that has been recommended for upgrading and improving the process.”

By Dike Onwuamaeze

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