NEITI insists that the NNPC owes Nigeria N726 billion, among others
The management of Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, on Monday reacted angrily to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC’s response disputing the former’s independent audit report, which indicted the Corporation of failing to remit $4.84 billion (N726 billion) to the Federation Account between 2009 and 2011.
According to the NEITI report, the money was part of payment the company should have made to the Federation Account in respect of dividends and repayment of loans by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, during the period.
The report said there were no records that such monies were remitted either to the joint JP Morgan account held by the Central Bank of Nigeria and NNPC or the Federation Account. The report also alleged that NNPC was indebted to the Federation Account to the tune of over N1.305 trillion as at December 31, 2011.
Petroleum Minister’s rebuttal
The NNPC’s response discrediting the report came through its Board Chairman and Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who described it as a historical compilation to mislead and misinform the public.
The minister, who was speaking at a dinner she hosted for reporters and her friends at the weekend in Abuja, accused NEITI of hurriedly publishing the report of its finding without following the standard audit process of presenting the draft audit report to the audited organisation for comments before the final report.
In its response on Monday, NNPC claimed the report contained fundamental inaccuracies which are misleading and constitutes misinformation to the public, adding that it was in the process of reviewing the draft brought to its attention on 17 January, 2013 for reconciliation when the report was hurriedly made public through the press.
The debt portion of the N928bn had been paid in the first quarter of 2012 on the relevant due dates.
Though NNPC’s response left out the non-remittance of the $4.84 billion dividend for NLNG, the company denied owing N1.3 trillion to the Federation Account. The NNPC said that the debt portion of the N928 billion as a result of the 90 days moratorium for domestic crude payments had been paid in the first quarter of 2012.
In addition, it claimed the outstanding debt of N377 billion was a carry-over of 2004-2005 when NNPC was directed to buy crude oil for domestic consumption at International market price, while selling petroleum products at subsidized prices.
NEITI’s Director of Communications, Ogbonnaya Orji, told PREMIUM TIMES that NNPC’s response followed the “same pattern of denial of facts and figures voluntarily provided by the same organisation during the audit process over the years.”
Mr. Orji, who described NNPC’s response as unfortunate, said apart from being a member of the NEITI National Stakeholders Working Group (NEITI Board), the NNPC participated in meetings of the Board where the templates used for the audit were approved.
The NEITI spokesman said a large delegation of NNPC attended the workshop on understanding the audit templates held in Lagos. He said NNPC actively participated in the audit process and provided all the information needed. The NNPC also populated the templates by filling in answers to questions as grouped by NEITI in the template; the populated template was then returned to NEITI Auditors within the given deadline.
“NNPC also participated actively with other covered entities at the validation and reconciliation exercise held in Lagos for a whole two-week period. At the meeting held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where the first draft of the Report was considered, the NNPC was represented by a Group General Manager who also made contributions to the deliberations.
“At the meeting of the Board held on the 17th of January where the final approval of the Report was decided, the NNPC was in attendance and collected copies of the report after the approval. They also signed off on the Report. It is therefore ridiculous that the same agency will turn around to claim unaware of the procedure and contents of the report,” he said.