30 civil society groups challenge Senate, Jonathan on missing oil $billions

Posted by News Express | 12 February 2014 | 3,068 times

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A coalition of 30 civil society groups across Nigeria has challenged the Nigerian Senate and President Goodluck Jonathan to act fast to put in place measures to clean up the mess in the country’s oil and gas sector.

Acting under the aegis of Say No Campaign–Nigeria, the coalition in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, specifically demanded action on the missing oil revenue put at between $10.8 billion and $49.8 billion. Below are excerpts of the ‘Civil Society Statement on Senate Committee Probe on Non-Remittance of Oil Revenue to the Federation Account’ issued on behalf of the Say No Campaign–Nigeria by Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC):

“The Say No Campaign–Nigeria and its collaborating civil society partners have followed with keen interest the ongoing probe of non-remittance of oil revenue to the Federation Account by the Ahmed Makarfi-led Senate Committee on Finance. This is on the heels of revelations made through a letter communicated by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the President on the same issue. At the heart of the probe and letter is the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that is allegedly responsible for the non-remittance initially put at $49.8 billion, but had been narrowed down to different figures ranging from $10.8 billion to $20 billion.

“The Ministry of Finance that is overseeing the inter-agency reconciliation process is of the view that $10.8 billion is the sum yet to be reconciled. The initial CBN’s claim of unreconciled $12 billion based on a difference of $1.22 allegedly expended by the NNPC on fuel subsidy in the First Quarter of 2012, in violation of a directive to it to stop subsidy deductions effective end of December 2011 has since been raised to $20 billion. The Bank claimed the additional $8 billion comes from $6bn worth of crude oil NNPC shipped for the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), an upstream subsidiary of the NNPC, and another $2bn from “third-party” financing.

“The NNPC on its part claimed there was nothing in its coffer to remit to the Federation Accounts, arguing that the $10.8 billion that the Ministry of Finance said was yet to be reconciled was spent on kerosene subsidy and pipeline repairs, even though it is yet to show evidence of such use. While the Nigerian public has berated the NNPC for its unilateral action of spending $10.8 billion without due appropriation by the National Assembly (i.e. assuming it claim is true), the Corporation has argued that its action is within its mandate.

“Considering the enormity of the issues at stake, the quantum of revenue involved and its implications for transparent and accountable use of the country’s resources, The Say No Campaign–Nigeria and its allies in the civil society struggle for a better country are deeply concerned about the uncertainties that this has created and the seemingly failure of any of the institutions named in the issue to responsibly address the concerns raised. It is to this extent that we are strongly supportive of all the mechanisms and processes that can be employed to ensure that the truth regarding these remittances is brought to fore. This is all the more necessary in the light of recurring leakages that have been identified in the series of reports of government commissioned committees, panels and task forces on oil and gas revenue management in Nigeria. Prominent among these reports totaling almost a dozen and spanning one and half decades are:

“1. Four NEITI oil and gas audit reports (1999-2004, 2005, 2006-2008 and 2009-2011)

“2. KMPG report on process and forensic review of the NNPC

“3. House of Representative Ad-Hoc Committee Report on Fuel Subsidy regime

“4. Aig-Imoukhuede-led committees’ reports on fuel subsidy claims and payments (2)

“5. Kalu Idika Kalu-led committee report on the refineries

“6. Dotun Sulaiman-led committee report on Governance and Global Best Practices in the NNPC

“7. Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Task Force report, and

“8. (Nigeria) Natural Resource Charter benchmarking report.

“The findings of all these reports have not only been validated by the New York-headquartered Revenue Watch Institute’s 2013 Resource Governance Index that measured the quality of governance in oil, gas and mining sectors of 58 countries around the globe and scored Nigeria low, it has also pointed to a consistent failure of the country to dispense with opacity and institutionalise transparency and accountability in the management of its oil and gas resources.

“To the above extent, Say No Campaign–Nigeria and its allied in the civil society struggle for transparency and accountability and good governance in Nigeria pray the Senate Committee on Finance currently sitting on this matter to:

“1. Thoroughly investigate the issues before it and establish the true state of affairs about the allegation of non-remittance of oil revenue by the NNPC

“2. Make practical recommendations – including the institution of interfaced and automated system among revenue collection agencies of government – on how best to deal with general challenges of non-remittance by agencies of government, the NNPC inclusive, to the Federation Account.

“3. Ensure a follow-up of the Senate and the entire National Assembly of the implementation of recommendations of the Committee, and

“4. Galvanise appropriate support for the speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) towards achieving sustainable reforms in the oil and gas sector.

“In conclusion, the Say No Campaign–Nigeria and its undersigned partners wish to extend this conversation beyond the on-going probe by the Senate Committee on Finance by placing demand on President Goodluck Jonathan to act in a manner that demonstrates genuine anger for the open stealing of oil and gas money in Nigeria as shown by the myriad of reports on this critical sector of the economy.”

•Photo shows President Jonathan.

Source: News Express

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