Absence of IOCs’ bosses stalls probe of NNPC joint venture
Senate orders Adeosun to appear today
Investigation by the Senate into the implementation of the Joint Venture Cash Calls Obligation by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was stalled yesterday by the absence of chief executive officers of the International Oil Companies (IOCs).
Shortly after the opening ceremony of the public hearing aspect of the investigation was kicked off by the Senate President Bukola Saraki, the Senate Joint Committee conducting the investigation raised the alarm that the IOCs had ignored its invitation.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Albert Bassey Akpan, said that all the IOCs sent very junior officers to represent them at the public hearing, a situation he described as totally unacceptable. He declared that the committee would not take anybody below the rank of executive director to represent any of the IOCs.
The public hearing was later suspended indefinitely until the committee is able to get the appropriate leaders of the IOCs to attend the investigative meeting.
Akpan noted that the effective implementation of the joint venture cash calls by both NNPC and its operators determines the level of investment activities in the oil and gas sector.
Declaring the public hearing open earlier, Saraki said that the Senate was disturbed with the frequent distortions that kept coming out of the oil and gas industry.
“At a period of disturbing and increased pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta region, the current cash call indebtedness standing at over $6 billion is a big problem staring at our economic health.
“The 2013 Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) report submitted to the Senate on June 15, 2016, shows that the huge sums of money that were not remitted to the federation account between 2005 and 2013 by the NNPC amounts to about $12.9 billion. That simply doubles the debt we have all sat here to investigate.”
According to Saraki, “Despite the fact that NNPC has a larger amount of the proceeds from the joint venture, it worries the Parliament to know that it has consistently been defaulting in payment of its own counterpart funding of projects.
“There is no doubt also that there is still lack of clarity in the current financial regimes, royalties and taxes in the oil and gas industry.”
Also yesterday, the Senate decried the failure of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun to appear before it for briefing on the state of the economy and ordered her to appear today unfailingly.
The minister had, in line with Senate resolution summoning her for appearance, assured that she would honour the invitation yesterday.
But when the Senate got to the item at yesterday’s plenary, Senate leader, Ali Ndume, informed the Senate that the minister, based on the text message received from her, said she might not be able to come for the briefing due to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) holding at the villa then, and thereby moved for stepping down of the item on the order paper.
Saraki concurred, and declared that comments made by the Minority Leader were very pertinent as regards the failure of the minister to appear.
He, therefore, ordered that the minister must unfailingly appear before the Senate on the state of the nation’s economy today.