The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday challenged President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to speak up on the N378 billion proceeds allegedly siphoned from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas dividends by the cabal in the Presidency, under the guise of oil subsidy deals.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party claimed that “Nigerians were startled by revelations of how the funds from the NLNG, an agency under President Buhari’s direct supervision as Minister of Petroleum, was secretly lifted and spent without the appropriation of the National Assembly.”
The statement read “Available intelligence shows that the Presidency cabal cornered the money under the guise of subsidy payments, but allegedly diverted a huge part of it to members of the cabal and some key APC leaders, which they used to finance their wasteful lifestyle, including acquiring posh property within and outside the country.
“If there was no ulterior agenda; if the money was actually meant for payment of subsidy, why was it drawn and purportedly spent without recourse to the constitutionally required approval of the National Assembly and other due process procedures under our laws?
“The PDP notes that such humongous corruption and stealing of trillions of naira in the oil and gas sector, which is under President Buhari’s purview as Minister of Petroleum, is directly responsible for the biting economic recession and its attendant high cost of living, acute hunger and starvation, poor living standard, dilapidated infrastructure, escalated violence and high mortality rate in the country in the last three and half years.
“If the Buhari-led APC administration had curtailed its greed and allowed for a little transparency in governance, our nation would not be in the dire strait in which we have found ourselves today. In any case, what else does one expect from a government replete with avaricious individuals, certificate forgers and liars.”
The party therefore challenged President Buhari, to, as a matter of urgency, “speak out on the monstrous corruption in his Presidency, which has also failed to offer explanations for the alleged siphoning of over N10 trillion from various sleazes, particularly in the oil and gas sector.”
The party urged the National Assembly “to immediately open an inquest into the N378 billion NLNG scandal and unravel who actually authorised the withdrawal, the beneficiaries, as well as what each APC leader got from this huge scam, with a view to exposing them and recovering the fund in the national interest.”
Saraki vows probe
Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki has disassociated himself and the leadership of the National Assembly from the $1.05billion (N378billion) drawn from the NLNG’s dividends by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation as slush fund for augmenting shortages from the N145 per litre current pump price of petrol.
Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Mikanti Baru had on Thursday last week submitted before the Senate’s Ad- Hoc Committee investigating the alleged $3.5 billion set aside as subsidy funds by the NNPC, that the corporation in line with provisions of its establishment Act and knowledge of leadership of the National Assembly, set aside $1.05billion from NLNG dividends to augment shortages being incurred from high price of petrol importation and low price of pump price.
Baru at the investigative hearing said: “$1.05bn which is equivalent of N383.2bn is taken from LNG dividends and domiciled in a special account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) called National Fuel Support Fund (NFSF) for the purposes of augmenting loses incurred from petrol pump price of N145 per litre as against N185 per litre it supposed to be.
“Based on available parameters from landing to transportation costs, the pump price of PMS supposed to be N185 per litre as against the official price of N145 per litre, indicating shortage of N40 per litre.
“Since subsidy is not appropriated for and pump price not adjusted upwardly, NNPC had no other reason than to in line with its establishment Act, section 7 sub section 4(b), defray its costs from its revenues”.
But the Senate President, in Ilorin yesterday, while fielding questions from journalists, denied knowledge of leadership of the National Assembly on the fund, describing it as illegal since it was not appropriated for by the National Assembly.
He assured that the Senate, on resumption of plenary today, will further probe the claims made by the NNPC GMD on how and why the corporation was diverting the dividends from the NLNG to defray the cost of under-recovery in the importation of fuel.
Saraki further disclosed that he had received series of telephone calls on the issue by many concerned Nigerians and others who wanted to know the position of the Senate on the issues raised by the NNPC’s GMD before the Senator Ahmad Lawan-led Ad-hoc Committee.
According to him, the disclosure by the NNPC boss in response to enquiries by the Senate Ad-hoc committee called for further investigation by the Senate and also showed that as alleged in a motion moved earlier by Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, a lot of illegal and unapproved spendings were going on in the petroleum corporation.
He said: “Let me assure Nigerians that there will be no cover up. We are confident that the ad-hoc committee will do a thorough job. All the issues will be unearthed. That is why when the Senate set up investigative committees on issues, we want Nigerians to have confidence in us that we do not act because we want to embark on a wild goose chase. There must be some serious issues to be looked into. The revelations by the NNPC’s GMD have justified the need for this investigation and they have shown that we are acting in good faith.
“When in my ruling on the motion raised by Senator Olujimi, I insisted that we want a transparent, honest and non-partisan investigation on the fuel subsidy issue, it was clear to me and my colleagues that there are certain irregularities being perpetrated, and we should let Nigerians know the truth.
“That is why we set up the committee in the first place and to demonstrate the seriousness, we attach to the issue, we decided that the ad-hoc committee should be led by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan.
“We are, however, shocked that the NNPC’s GMD was claiming that the illegal diversion of dividends from the NLNG which should be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation for the purpose of funding the fuel subsidy, was done in compliance with the National Assembly directive that NNPC as the supplier of last resort, should ensure robust petrol supply.
“So, if the National Assembly called on NNPC to carry out its legitimate duty of ensuring adequate fuel supply to Nigerians, the GMD logically thinks the corporation by that call has the license to perpetrate illegality, spend money without approval and violate appropriation laws.
“This investigation will require the GMD to produce the approval given by the National Assembly and other necessary approving bodies authorising the NNPC to divert the dividend from the NLNG investment, which ought to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund belonging to the three tiers of government, for the payment of fuel subsidy.”