Hon. Farouk Lawan
By Chineme Okafor
The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has said the recent report of the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on the administration of petroleum subsidy in Nigeria has finally validated the authenticity of its audit findings in the petroleum sector.
NEITI in a statement Sunday in Abuja, stated that the report of the Hon. Farouk Lawan-led committee which indicted the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petroleum Products and Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other stakeholders in the country’s petroleum sector of underhand dealings, was comprehensive and devoid of manipulations.
A statement which was signed by its Director of Communications, Orji Ogbonnanya Orji, said it was not surprised by the findings of the committee considering that it had earlier in its previous audit reports made such damning revelations of underhand practices in the sector.
NEITI had in its audit reports variously accused NNPC and others of short-changing the Federation of unremitted revenues from crude sales, and these audit reports have equally been contested by NNPC as been inconsistent and short of facts, albeit NEITI’s insistence of strict adherence to facts and figures submitted to it for reconciliation.
“For NEITI, the preliminary findings of the Ad-hoc committee was not surprising given the prevailing poor institutional linkages, infrastructural weakness, governance and process lapses as well as some kind of impunity which appear to frustrate all efforts at enthroning openness, transparency and good business ethics in the oil and gas industry over the years.
From the reports of the Farouk Lawan led House Ad hoc Committee so far, it is not quite shocking for NEITI over the level of corruption and abuses in the oil and gas sector, even given the amount of funds being mentioned in the report that could not be accounted for,” NEITI stated in the statement.
The statement further explained: “NEITI reports had made similar shocking revelations in the areas of under payments and receipts, poor computation of financial flows, physical crude lifting’s and general concerns on management of the processes. But the reports got very little or no attention.
“However, NEITI wishes to align itself with the pronouncement by Mr. President through his Special Adviser on National Assembly Affairs, the position of the Hon. Minister of Finance that all those found culpable in the fuel subsidy scandal will be publicly prosecuted. These pronouncements are reassuring and most welcome.”
It noted that it is in alignment with the media, the civil society and all Nigerians in calling for an objective and thorough conclusion of investigations on the subsidy administration as well as the necessary courage required in ensuring full implementation of the findings and recommendations of the committees’ report.
“The House of Reps Ad hoc Committee preliminary reports, has no doubt put NEITI and its auditors on “red alert” on the need for a thorough job in the on-going NEITI comprehensive audit just commenced. The audits which cover the period, 2009 to 2011 for oil and gas industry and the solid minerals sector for the period 2007 to 2010 are to be concluded by the end of this year.
Since the scope of the on-going comprehensive audit this time covers the downstream sector including subsidy payments, the NEITI Executive Secretary, Zainab Ahmed has already and publicly directed the auditors to demonstrate courage, competence, integrity and professionalism in the discharge of this sensitive national assignment,” the statement said.
“The unfolding developments in the oil and gas sector do not demand less if Nigeria must use the NEITI/EITI process to promote good governance of our extractive revenue resources to rebuild our infrastructure, reduce poverty, unemployment and social conflicts in our country,” NEITI adds.