Probe reveals N30b oil revenue ‘hidden’ by NNPC
• States, others receive share of recovered fund • N58.369b unreported
• It’s all about data interpretation, says oil corporation’s spokesman
Full disclosure in the administration of crude sales remains an issue at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) despite current efforts at enthroning transparency in the conduct of government business.
An account reconciliation activity for crude oil transactions found gaps in the corporation’s reporting and remittances to the Federation Account for the month of October 2017.
State governments had boycotted the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting on November 23, accusing the NNPC of cutting corners in reporting and remitting of receipts from oil in the period under review. The states insisted on thorough collation and reconciliation through representatives agreed upon by all the parties.
The ensuing investigation and reconciliation uncovered the sum of N58.369 billion in unremitted funds and forced the state-owned company to issue fresh payment mandates to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fund the Federation Account as well as the joint venture production (JVP) Account by the same amount.
The Guardian learnt that N30 billion of the N58.369 billion meant for remittance was allegedly withheld, as it could not be traced in the Federation Account.
The Federation Account payment mandate directive to the CBN carries the value of N58.369 billion for the October 2017 crude oil receipts, while the payment mandate directive for the JVP cash call funding for October 2017 has a value of N29.985 billion.
The October FAAC meeting finally held on Thursday, December 7, 2017, after the revenue figures were reconciled and the NNPC made full remittance into the Federation Account.
This additional N30 billion revenue available for distribution to the three tiers of government in the following order: Federal Government, N13.749 billion; states, N6.973 billion; local councils, N5.376 billion and oil mineral producing states, N3.9 billion.
According to Mr. Mahmoud Yunusa, who chairs a body of commissioners of finance from the 36 states and Abuja, the new trend (under-reporting of oil revenue by the NNPC) will force states to be actively involved in collation and preparation of NNPC revenue account to prevent a recurrence. Yunusa said the states would engage “sit-in” consultants who will liaise with the NNPC to collate and reconcile revenue figures on monthly basis.
A similar incident had occurred during the administration of the late former president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s which led to a forensic audit discovery of N450 billion in under-reporting and non-remittance to the Federation Account. It was agreed at the time that the repayment process, which was only concluded three months ago, should be made on an installment basis.
But Mr. Ndu Ughmadu, the Group General Manager of Public Affairs Division (GGM PAD) at the NNPC, would neither confirm nor deny if there were non-remittances, since, according to him, “it has to do with financials.” He promised to cross- check the facts.
The NNPC spokesman said he was not aware that that states boycotted the November 23 FAAC meeting. Instead, he explained that the meeting could not hold because there was a directive by the National Council of State for a reconciliation of the NNPC Account. The directive, he said, was given because there were “some contestations” from some stakeholders (the states).
Ughamadu added: “The FAAC was not boycotted. There were issues relating to the interpretation of data presented by the NNPC, and the National Council of State directed that all stakeholders should jointly look into the Account.
“I cannot comment on the claimed N30 billion additional remittances into the Federation Account because that has to do with financials and there is no way I can verify it right now because today is Sunday; I will have to find out.”