The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation failed to remit $16.8 billion paid reportedly to it as dividends by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) said Thursday.
The revelation was made at the “Anti Corruption Situation Room Forum – Engaging the Oil and Gas Sector for Service Delivery, Transparency and Accountability: NEITI 2015 Oil and Gas Audit Report as a Case Study” held at Rockview Hotel Royale, Abuja.
The event is an initiative of Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA resource centre, supported by the Mac Arthur Foundation.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Waziri Adio, during his presentation explained that there is a general assumption that countries with abundant resources are not doing well in terms of development than most countries with little or no resources.
“It is a shame that Nigeria with its abundance of resources has little or nothing to show for it in terms of development – good roads, balanced health care, quality education system and all that, It’s not that the resources are cursed. The problem is the reckless way those resources are utilised. NEITI as an agency is committed to ensuring that the opacity in the operation in the oil and gas sector becomes a thing of the past.
”For instance, the 2015 audit report of the sector has it that N316.7 billion was paid on subsidy in 2015 as against the budgeted sum of N145 billion by the government. According to our findings, The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited, made a total payment of $16,898,725,000 to NNPC between year 2000 to 2015. NNPC however confirmed receipt of this fund but there was no evidence of remittance to Federation Account.
”When our auditors asked NNPC why it failed to remit the sum to the Federation Account, they said there was instruction from the president to warehouse the fund and spend as directed. When we requested to know the status of the funds and what has become of it, and also document from the president that gave NNPC approval to warehouse the fund, the NNPC said instruction from the presidency authorised it to hold income from NLNG on trust and to administer same as directed by the government. This and other many issues of transparency are what affects the fortune of our land,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, a lawyer, Femi Falana, said Nigerians need to know the extent of the rot in the oil and gas sector.
“I hope all of you here are aware that recently I wrote letter to NNPC demanding to know how much subsidy this government has spent on oil since 2015 and NNPC denied me the report with an excuse that it’s not a public institution and what that tells you is that there’s a lot going on in the sector that many of us don’t know. If I tell you how much Nigeria is losing from shady deals in the oil and gas sector, you will be surprised.
”I belong to a team of lawyers that has done some work on the stealing in this sector and we discovered that between January 2011 and December 2014, we got the information from the loading point and countries of the charge. In Philadelphia port in US, we discovered that in three years, 60.2 million barrels of oil were not recorded here but recorded there in US for the purpose of taxation and valued at 12.7 billion dollars. That’s just one port in US.
”If you take all the ports in US where our oil was discharged at that period, I’m sure Nigeria will make about 200 billion dollars. We have not gone to China yet, India, Britain, France and all the countries that our oil was taken to during that period when there was total collapse of values and integrity of our country. That was the period everyone was stealing our oil. Because we couldn’t convince the government, they ignored our finding.
”We did a petition to the EFCC and wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance. Apart from reply that our letter is receiving attention, we haven’t heard anything. EFCC has been told to not touch oil companies unless there’s presidential fiat. We have gone to court, interestingly, the shipping and oil companies really have no explanation,” he said.
The chairman of the event, Nuhu Ribadu, said it is high time the government, National Assembly, anti-corruption agencies, and civil society organisations focus on the oil and gas sector and demand transparency.
“We must now, since NEITI has provided us with useful information, ask relevant questions and hold government accountable. Oil and Gas is the source of all our revenue. We believe if we have transparency in that sector, we are sure of accountability. When there’s accountability, there will be results, we’ll fare better as a country, We encourage NEITI to continue to ensure we have transparency in the oil and gas sector.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Human and Development Agenda (HEDA), Lanre Suraj, expressed delight at the work of NEITI most especially the 2015 oil and gas audit report.
He called on citizens to get involved in the anti-corruption fight by asking the right questions.
He also challenged the government and anti-corruption agencies in the country to be more proactive in the fight against corruption and equally expressed optimism that when all hands are on deck to fight corruption, ”Nigeria will be a better place”.