House to probe un-remitted $10.8 revenue

By The Rainbow

Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are to explain to the House of Representatives why $10.8billion remains unremitted to the Federation Account.

Both of them are to be summoned by the Finance Committee, it was gathered at the weekend.

Also to be invited are Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the Accountant General, Mr. Jonah Otunla.

The House is due to return from recess tomorrow and top of the agenda of the Finance Committee is to probe the 'missing' cash.

A source said: 'The Committee will probe the alleged non-remittance of $10bn to the Federation Account by the NNPC as a result of a hint of 'missing $49.8bn' by the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

'We are interested in unraveling the true account of the figures because we cannot afford to just take these different claims on the face value.

'The investigation will include the Finance ministry, which mediated to bring down the earlier quoted figures to $10.8 billion as the actual figure of the NNPC's non-remittance.

'At a joint news conference, Sanusi admitted an error in the figure, claiming that the unremitted figure was $12bn, but the Finance Minister maintained that it is $10.8 billion, only for NNPC to later claim that the alleged missing fund was part of its expenditure for the period under review. So we are duty-bound to verify these claims because we know what such money can do if pumped into our economy.'

The crisis started when Sanusi wrote the president, alleging that $49.8 billion oil remittance that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) ought to pay in to the Federation Account was missing.

This letter, it was alleged, drew the ire of President Jonathan, who directed Sanusi to resign for allegedly leaking his letter to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, based on which the former president wrote him a damning letter.

The CBN governor allegedly denied any wrongdoing, insisting that he would not be stampeded out of office. He insisted that it is only the Senate that could remove him and not a presidential fiat.

However, the NNPC has given more details of how it spent the alleged missing $10.8 billion, which is part of the controversial 'unaccounted' $49.8 billion oil revenue. The corporation claimed that the bulk of the money was spent subsidising fuel in 2012.

NNPC Group Executive Director.
Finance and Accounts Directorate, Bernard Otti, said the $10.8b reflected expenditures incurred by the corporation during the period under review and are 'really made up of the following: subsidy claims, $8.49b, pipeline management and repair costs, $1.22b, products/crude oil losses $0.72b, and cost of holding the strategic reserve, $0.37b'.

The NNPC's director of Finance said the expenditures were incurred as part of statutory responsibilities which the NNPC as the national oil company executes on behalf of the Federal Government and, by extension, the people of Nigeria, stressing that the NNPC has broken no laws in deducting those costs in line with the NNPC Act.

But, former Vice President of the World Bank Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili has taken up the Minister of Finance and the NNPC over the sloppy manner the government has handled the issue.

She challenged Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala to personally shoulder the responsibility of accounting to Nigerians about the 'missing money', pointing out that 'a good place to start would be if the (Coordinating) Minister of Economy can sign off on NNPC's breakdown of the 'missing $10billion'.