By Talatu Usman
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, generated about N8.1trillion between 2012 and May 2015, but paid only N4.3trillion to the federation account, Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, said Monday, citing new details from the federal economic council meeting.
The balance of the oil money — about N3.8trillion — was withheld and spent by the NNPC unilaterally without approval or National Assembly appropriation, the governor told journalists.
Also, the governor confirmed at the meeting that from November 2014, about $2.1billion was withdrawn from the excess crude account without the approval of the National Economic Council, NEC.
Mr. Oshiomhole, who, alongside the governors of Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and Zamfara governor, Abdulazeez Yari, briefed journalists, said following the discovery, the NEC has set up a four-member committee to comb the books of the NNPC to confirm its remittances and how the excess crude account was utilised.
President Muhammadu Buhari dissolved the board of the NNPC on Friday, to pave way for full investigation of the corporation.
Mr. Oshiomhole said Monday’s meeting was the first time the NNPC and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, briefed the National Economic Council, as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The governor said Mr. Buhari “compelled” the NNPC to provide information in “black and white” on issues relating to the total sales of Nigeria’s crude oil from 2012 to May 2015.
“This has never happened before and for us this is profound. 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 the NNPC claimed to have earned N8.1 trillion, what NNPC paid into the federation account from 2012 to May 2015 was N4.3trillion.
“What it means is that NNPC withheld and spent N3.8 trillion.
“The major revelation here is that for the entire federation — that is the federal government, the states and all the 774 local governments — the amount the NNPC paid into the federation account for distribution to this three tiers of government came to N4.3 trillion and NNPC alone took and spent N3.8 trillion. Which 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, they are huge figures.”
He said it had become clear that the NNPC had not respected the Constitution on how government money should be spent.
“If NNPC needs to spend money, it is obliged to prepare its budget like every other business
enterprise. That budget will be scrutinized by the executive and forwarded to the National Assembly and the National Assembly will accordingly appropriate it.
“If the federal government cannot spend without appropriation, why should any agency spend without appropriation?”
Mr. Oshiomhole said President Buhari promised that henceforth, all monies must go to the federation account.
“What you need you 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 N3.8 trillion and remit to the federal, states and local governments N4.3 trillion which means NNPC is taking about 47 per cent and that explains all the leakages you are talking about.”
He said parastatals must return to spending on a budget.
“We are not reinventing the wheel, that is the way it used to be and that is the way the constitution says it should”
EXCESS CRUDE ACCOUNT
The Edo governor also disclosed $2.1 billion was withdrawn from $4.1 billion reported to be in the excess crude account as at November 2014 without the approval of the National Economic Council (NEC). The account now has $2.0bilion.
“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 by November 2014, that we had $4.1 billion.
“But today the Accountant General Office reported we have $2.0 billion. Which means the Honourable Minister spent $2.1billion without authority of the NEC. And that money was not distributed to states, it was not paid to the three tiers of government. This is why the NEC has set up a panel to look at what accrued, what it was spent for, when and by whom. So that Nigerians will have the full picture of all the transactions as regards the much talked about Excess crude,” Mr. Oshiomhole said.
The four-member committee, which consists of the governors of Edo, Gombe, Kaduna and Akwa Ibom states.
Explaining further, Kaduna State Governor, Mr. El-Rufai, noted that the Federal Government had in the last year been unilaterally withdrawing from the excess crude account without consulting the other owners.
According to him “The Excess Crude account was started by President Olusegun Obasanjo around
“It was an administrative arrangement to save for a rainy day. And it was meant to have very clear accountability such that every state and local government, in a particular state knows their balance in the Excess Crude Account, though you can’t spend it but you know how much of it is yours.
“That was the arrangement. And in those days, before we spend any money from the Excess Crude Account, the federal and states governments will meet and agree. That is how we agreed to build the seven power stations which is NIPP today, it was from Excess Crude Account. And we also met and agreed to build the Lagos – Kano Standard Gauge Rail Line from the Excess Crude Account.
“But what we have seen, in the last few months or years is that the Excess Crude Account was operated unilaterally by the federal government, drawings were made unilaterally without consulting those that actually own the money because the Excess Crude Account is 52 percent owned by the federal government and 48 by the states and LGA.
“So the decision of the NEC is to set up this committee of four to look at the operations of the Excess Crude Account and make recommendations to council on its future.
“The other thing the committee will do is to look at the operations of the federation accounts particularly the shortfall and again come back to council with very clear recommendations as to what to do.
“We have not been given a time frame but as you can imagine states government is under pressure, many of our state governments are unable to pay salaries on time without recourse to borrowing, so this is very important to us. This is an all governors committee; we wear the shoes we know where it pinches. So we are going to do this as quickly as possible,” he said.
The Council’s next meeting of the council is on July 23rd, and Mr. El- Rufai said he hopes the committee will complete its work and be in position to report to council on that day.
Zamfara governor, Abdulazeez Yari, said the council also agreed that the Federal Government in conjunction with the Central Bank, will see how to support financially ailing states.
Source: PREMIUM TIMES