By Chineme Okafor
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has alleged that the report of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on the Monitoring of the Subsidy Regime “may have been altered to embarrass us”.
The report, which is yet to be adopted by the House, indicted NNPC, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and many marketers for alleged mismanagement and fraud in the administration of the fuel subsidy between 2008 and last year.
NNPC is asking that a “full disclosure” of the content of the probe be made public to Nigerians by the committee if it was sure that it was not altered with the intent to deceive the country.
Insisting that it had not committed any wrong in the whole process of petroleum subsidy as claimed by the report, the NNPC in a statement signed by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, Sunday in Abuja stated that it never made any double withdrawal.
The allegation was contained in the probe report which accused NNPC of withdrawing from two different sources simultaneously to recover its subsidy claims.
“Such a claim is totally unfounded and absurd. We challenge both the Central Bank of Nigeria (CNB) and the Ad Hoc Committee to provide evidence that such payments as alleged were made to NNPC. They must show authorisation for the payments as well as breakdown of the amount, purpose for the payments, beneficiary accounts in which such payments were made and the utilisation of such payments,” Ajuonuma said.
He explained that rather than collecting such payments from CBN as alleged, the NNPC applied subsidy approvals as credit due to the corporation towards the cost of its domestic crude allocation.
“For the purposes of clarity subsidy payments to NNPC are not based on cash remittance. The mechanics of subsidy recovery by NNPC are not fund-based but by way of deduction form crude cost due. As a matter of fact, from the commencement of the subsidy regime there was never a time when CBN paid any money to NNPC in respect of subsidy claim,” he said.
The NNPC spokesman expressed dismay that the committee could make such unfounded allegation against the corporation despite the fact that all necessary documents and information were provided to it by the corporation within the course of its probe.
“For instance, NNPC presented to Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) approvals for 2011 totalling N981 billion out of which only N844.9 billion has been credited to NNPC. But surprisingly the Committee claimed that PPPRA approved only N504 billion and that the balance was excess payment to NNPC. What logic?” he said.
In its general review of the report, the NNPC insisted that the committee seemed not to be sure of its action as its intention was really not to clarify the subsidy payments but more interested in maligning and damaging the reputation of the corporation as well as other key players of the industry.
The corporation also picked holes in the committee’s query of NNPC deduction of subsidy payment as a first line charge.
“The basis for the deduction of both cash calls for Joint Venture operations and NNPC’s subsidy payments as a first line charge on the income of the Federal Government are statutory and founded on the Appropriation Act which was passed by the National Assembly. Under the said Appropriation Act, certain budgetary items including subsidy payments to the NNPC are listed as first line charges on the income of the Federation. The Committee accepted the cash call as first line charge yet alleged that the subsidy aspect was illegal, it is clear that the tune of the Committee’s report is not only damaging to the Corporation but to the entire nation. At this stage it is pertinent to ask the question, whose interest is this committee serving?” Ajuonuma said.