—Kerosene subsidy scam:
— Okonjo-Iweala seeks forensic audit
— Sanusi recants, accepts our figures – NNPC
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Dieziani Allison-Madueke, yesterday said the presidential directive stopping the payment of subsidy on kerosene by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was in no way a law.
She said the payments on subsidy were not withdrawn because the directive issued by the Presidency was not gazetted.
“When a presidential directive is given, it’s not law until it is gazetted,” she said.
“In the directive on subsidy removal on kerosene, there is no gazet, at least we’ve not found one.”
She said that should subsidy on kerosene be withdrawn, the effect it would have on Nigerians would be the product being sold for three times the present price in the market.
The NNPC also accounted for the missing $10.8 billion oil revenue, just as the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has called for an Independent forensic audit of documents submitted by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) over the missing amount.
The PPPRA had, yesterday during an investigative hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Finance, submitted documents which certified spending and claims made by the NNPC over the missing $10.8 billion crude oil fund.
The agency, at the hearing, said that contrary to alleged claims made by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, that $20 billion was diverted by the NNPC, same was untrue as all monies had duly been accounted for by the corporation.
Recall that Sanusi had alleged that $49.8 billion crude oil proceeds was missing and yet to be remitted to the coffers of the federal government by the NNPC.
The allegation, which generated much controversy, was taken up on the floor of the Senate, wherein its committee on finance was given the mandate to carry out a thorough investigation into the claim made by Sanusi.
The outcome of the investigation revealed, however, on the contrary that $49.8 billion was not the amount missing in question, but $10.8 billion, following a series of reconciliation embarked upon by the NNPC, the CBN and the finance ministry.
Speaking to newsmen after the hearing, Okonjo-Iweala said her call for an independent forensic audit into the documents submitted to the committee by the NNPC and certified by the PPPRA over the missing $10 billion oil revenue was just so as to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of government funds.
Okonjo-Iweala said: “On the oil finances, what is being said here, it is made to look as if there is no accountability, and that is not the case. For two steady years, Federal Allocation Committee meeting, the Ministry of Finance ensured that the account of the country are transparently laid and every commissioner knows the details, they have their folders.
“It is the result of the reconciliation that we arrive at $10.8 billion that everybody is now talking about. When CBN spoke about $49.8 billion, we were the first to say it was not correct. After that, it was proven that $49.8 billion was not the right amount, the CBN had the courage to admit that it was actually $10.8 billion. It was the process employed by the Ministry of Finance that brought that about.
“Without the steady work we have done to perfect the finances of this country, we won’t be talking about $10.8 billion. The issue is that where is that money? How is it being accounted for? And we have led the process. We asked both the NNPC and the PPPRA to produce their documents and they had produced certified copies for the $10.8 billion and we have asked for an independent audit. A lot of accusations are being made in this country and the only way to be satisfied is to have an independent audit.”
The Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, against the backdrop of Sanusi’s claim, said that the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke, would appear before the committee next Thursday to give a legal insight into what amount belongs to the federation account.
Meanwhile, the NNPC yesterday said in a statement issued by its Acting Group General Manager, Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, that Sanusi finally accepted the certified claims of the NNPC presented by the inter-agency committee on reconciliation that certified the claims of the corporation.
The statement said: “Speaking during the public hearing between the Senate Committee on Finance and the Inter-Agency Committee in Abuja, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, said the ministry was on the same page with the inter-agency submission.”