Members of the Federation Account Allocation Committee rose from a late meeting Monday night with a resolution to probe the circumstances surrounding the delay by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to remit to government the $1.48 billion (N294.5 billion) uncovered by a recent forensic audit.
The forensic audit conducted by the audit firm of PriceWaterHouseCoopers on behalf of the Federal Government on the operations of the NNPC had indicted the management of the national oil company for various questionable transactions.
The audit followed an allegation that the NNPC had failed to account for $20 billion oil money.
The audit only found $1.48 billion was missing, the Nigerian government said, after releasing some details of the report.
The government has refused to make the full report public.
Part of the recommendations in the report said the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, the upstream subsidiary of the NNPC, should refund the $1.48 billion to the Federation Account.
But, months after the Auditor General of the Federation, Samuel Ukura, who presented extracts of the report, asked thw NNPC to remit the funds, FAAC said no money has been paid.
Consequently, during the meeting for the month of March, FAAC constituted a ministerial committee to investigate the circumstances behind the delay.
The Chairman, Forum of Finance Commissioners of FAAC, Timothy Odaah, told reporters after the meeting on Monday that the committee was worried that the delay was negatively impacting the revenue available for distribution among the tiers of government.
Mr. Odaah said in spite of the directive by President Goodluck Jonathan for the funds to be released to the Federation Account, the NNPC was yet to comply about a month to the end of the current administration.
The Commissioner said the remittance of the funds has become compelling in view of the consistent drop in revenue allocations to the three tiers of government as a result of dwindling oil revenue from declining global oil prices.
“We (states) need the money to meet their obligations,” Mr. Odaah said. “Majority of the states are yet to pay salaries of workers and contractors for projects executed.
“We are making a clarion call for the release of the $1.48 billion from the forensic audit of the NNPC so that we can clear our debts.”
Since the next FAAC meeting in April would be the last for the present administration, Mr. odaah said the expectation of the states was that the money should come during that period.
The committee, the Chairman said, has been mandated to meet with the NNPC management to resolve all issues delaying the remittance, particularly as both the President and the Petroleum Resources minister have already directed that payment be made.
“We need that money. The Federal Government needs it. The states and local governments also need it, and if it is not released with this type of abysmal funding we have seen, it will be very terrible,” he said.
During the meeting, the Accountant General of the Federation, Jonas Otunla, said in his report that the revenue that accrued to the federal government during the month under review dropped by about the N86.4 billion.
Mr. Otunla attributed the drop to the continued shutdown of trunks and pipelines at various oil terminals, which negatively impacted the country’s revenue.
Consequently, gross revenue to the Federation Account dropped to N315.04 billion in March from the N401.46 billion in February.
The Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, who presided over the meeting, said mineral revenue declined by N78.36 billion from N306.94 billion in February to N228.58 billion in March.
Non-mineral revenue, he said, also dropped by N86.42 billion, from the February figure of N94.52 billion to N86.46billion.
The communique disclosed that there was an increase in the average crude oil price per barrel from $48.65 to $55.34 during the period, resulting in an increase in revenue by $43.73 million during the period.
The Minister said non-oil revenue dipped further in the month of March due partially to the point that the timeframe for companies to file their returns had not fallen due.
Most companies operating with accounting year end of December 31 have up till March 31 to file in their returns.
The statutory allocation for the month dropped as distributable revenue to the three tiers of government dropped by to N435.06 billion from the N522.05 billion shared in February.
The Federal Government received N146.48 billion for the month, representing 52.68 per cent, while the states and local governments received N74.29 billion and N57.28 billion, respectively.
The oil producing states took home 13 per cent of the total revenue as derivation revenue.