Federal Government yesterday constituted a four-member committee to probe account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, which it said could not account for N3.8trn out of N8.1trn earned between 2012 and May 2015.
Members of the committee include Governors Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe) and Mallam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna) Speaking at a press briefing at the end of the National Economic Council, NEC, meeting at the Presidential Villa, Governor Oshiomhole said it was also discovered that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan spent $2.1bn from the Excess Crude Account, ECA, without approval.
According to him, the amount NNPC paid into the Federation Account for distribution to the three tiers of government was N4.3trn, while it spent N3.8trn alone.
Oshiomhole said what the record revealed was that the cost of running NNPC was much more than the cost of running the Federal Government.
The governor said this was the first time NEC, under the instruction of the President, would compel NNPC and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation to provide information on issues relating to the total sales of Nigeria’s crude from 2012 to May 2015.
“We are talking about transparency, we are talking about change and what we saw from those numbers I believe that Nigerians are entitled to know, is that whereas NNPC claimed to have earned N8.1trn, what was paid into the Federation Account from 2012 to May 2015 was N4.3trn.
“What it means is that NNPC withheld and spent N3.8trn.The major revelation here is that the amount NNPC paid into the federation account for distribution to the three tiers of government cameto N4.3trn and the corporation alone took and spent N3.8trn.
“This means the cost of running NNPC is much more than the cost of running the Federal Government.That tells you how much is missing; what is mismanaged; what is stolen. These are huge figures,” Oshiomhole said.
He explained that the appropriate thing to do before NNPC spend money realised from the sale of crude was to prepare its budget for which the amount would be appropriated by the National Assembly.
“There is no enterprise manager who goes to the market and sells and just begin to spend, otherwise nobody needs to budget,” he said.
Oshiomhole explained further that if the Federal Government cannot spend without appropriation, agencies of government should not spend money without appropriation.He explained that Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, for example was supposed to pay into the Federation Account and present its budget according to the provisions of the constitution.
“This is what the constitution provided for. And this is what President Buhari has promised to do that henceforth all monies must go to the Federation Account.
“What do you need budget for; Nigeria cannot continue with you earn the money and spend it.Where is transparency? Where is the role of the National Assembly? So if you were doing that you won’t have a situation where the NNPC alone will spend N3.8trn and remit to the federal, states andlocal governments N4.3trn which means NNPC is taking about 47 per cent and that explains all the leakages you are talking about,” Oshiomhole said.
The governor also regretted that the ECA account was depleted by the former administration without approval by the appropriate authority.He said: “We looked at the numbers for the Excess Crude Account. The last time the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, reported to the Council and it is in the minute, she reported that by November 2014, we had $4.1bn but today the Accountant General Office reported we have $2bn, which means the Honourable Minister spent $2.1bn without authority of the NEC.”
Also speaking at the briefing, El-Rufai said the committee is expected to submit its report at the next meeting of the Council on July 23.
Zamfara State Governor and Chairman Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, Abdulaziz Yari, disclosed at the briefing that NEC also decided that the Federal Government in conjunction with the CBN would look inwards to see how to support states especially on the issue of outstanding salaries.