“On the issue of holding government to account, I don’t think Nigerians are laid back.”
After months of agitation by Nigerians, the Federal Government on Thursday named the firm appointed to handle the forensic audit of the accounts and activities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
On April 22, 2014, PREMIUM TIMES had requested from the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, details of the audit firm appointed, its mandate, deadline and cost of the assignment.
No response was provided by the minister.
But, speaking during the plenary session at the ongoing 24th World Economic Forum for Africa, WEFA, in Abuja, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said PriceWaterHouseCoopers has been appointed to carry out the audit.
The Minister did not provide further details on the terms of reference for the firm, such as the scope, and cost, except that the exercise would take between 12 to 16 weeks to complete.
She said the audit would be conducted under the supervision of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, OAuGF.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala did not also comment on whether the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is also the Chairman of the Board of NNPC, and the Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Andrew Yakubu, would be asked to step aside during the audit.
The audit became necessary following allegations by the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, that about $20 billion oil revenue was not remitted by the NNPC to the federation account between 2011 and 2012.
The minister said the forensic audit would help government unravel all mysteries surrounding the alleged unaccounted oil revenues.
She was responding to a question by one of the panelists on the issue of corruption and transparency in government in the country.
“On the issue of holding government to account, I don’t think Nigerians are laid back. We need that transparency and we welcome it. The (suspended) CBN Governor raised issues on unaccounted oil revenues from the federation account,” she said.
“We at the Ministry of Finance have for two years been reconciling these figures with the NNPC to know what they are supposed to remit to the federation account. Our feeling is that the only way is to have a forensic audit that would let Nigerians know the truth about the issue.
“There is a forensic audit that the government has approved and it is being done by PwC (PriceWaterHouseCoopers) under the supervision of the Auditor General of the Federation and they said they need 12 to 16 weeks to do that and all these would be clarified.”
On poverty and inclusive growth, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said the nature of economic growth in Africa had not been inclusive enough, insisting that more needed to be done to change the quality of economic growth in the continent.
She said it was obvious that the quality of growth in the continent was not good enough, considering that the economies of most countries in the region were rising with inequality and without sufficient job creation for their people.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said Nigeria was growing without creating jobs, adding that questions about how to change the quality of growth informed the recent rebasing of the gross domestic product, GDP to reveal the country’s real potentials.
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