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Buhari and the missing $20 billion in NNPC - Daily Independent

By The Citizen
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We believe it will be more rewarding to look into the future and implement the PwC recommendation that the laws that established the corporation be urgently reviewed to stop the NNPC from deducting its costs of operation from crude oil sales proceeds

On Sunday, the President-elect Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, reportedly reiterated his resolve to probe activities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over the alleged 'missing' $20 billion that was not remitted into the Federation Account. This is, indeed, contrary to an earlier statement that his administration will not probe dealings of the past administrations, since such could cause unnecessary distractions for his government.

Recall that the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had last year, blown the whistle on the alleged unremitted amount. Although the allegation was trailed by  controversies and denials, Sanusi insisted that $20 billion was yet to be remitted to the federation till by the NNPC. This necessitated the intervention of the Senate Committee on Finance, which offered to probe the veracity of the allegation through a public hearing. The Federal Government responded, albeit reluctantly, by engaging the audit firm of PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PWC) to do a detailed forensic audit of NNPC's accounts. Both the Senate Committee and PwC reportedly cleared the corporation in their reports revealing that the unremitted amount was $1.48 billion and not $20 billion as alleged. An obviously elated Petroleum Resources Minister, Mrs. Deziani Allison-Madueke, told reporters at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja that the amount is already being refunded to the Federation Account.

We respect the resolve of Buhari to probe the claims against NNPC, despite the clean bills of health it currently enjoys, in line with his determination to entrench zero tolerance to corruption and misappropriation of public funds. This Newspaper, however, believes that digging into the activities of the past government will create unnecessary delay in the commencement of the core business of governance. It is crucial that the incoming government understands that the moment a probe is opened on NNPC, its subsidiaries and of course other agencies, there will definitely be a barrage of petitions and counter-petitions. The question is: How far can it go?

Rather than embarking on a fresh probe, we believe it will be more rewarding to look into the future and implement the PwC recommendation that the laws that established the corporation be urgently reviewed to stop the NNPC from deducting its costs of operation from crude oil sales proceeds.

Indeed, Buhari's administration should hit the ground running, focusing on the many problems affecting the people such as infrastructure, diversification of the economy, especially in the face of the unfortunate fall in the crude oil prices with adverse effects on the economy.

Beyond this, it is also important that the anti-graft agencies be strengthened and given the required impetus to operate effectively and efficiently. A combination of these and other measures will undoubtedly reposition the NNPC.