NEITI Queries Use of N70tn under Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan

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Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has said it is bothered that Nigeria earned more than N70 trillion from its sale of oil and gas between 1999 and 2014, but ended up in an economic recession in 2016.

The extractive industries transparency agency also said the over N70 trillion which represents earnings from sale of crude oil and gas, passed through the governments of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and then Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, stretching over a period of 15 years.

Speaking yesterday when he hosted the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs on an oversight visit to his office in Abuja, NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Waziri Adio, noted that it would be necessary for Nigeria to develop a prudent mode of spending her earnings from her oil and gas industry to avoid falling into the kind of economic recession she is currently in.

Recently, Adio had told stakeholders during a consultative workshop for the development of a roadmap for beneficial ownership disclosure in Nigeria’s extractive industries that NEITI would continue to ask for a transparent and accountable management of revenues earned by Nigeria from her extractive sectors.

He said the beneficial ownership framework would help sustain ownership transparency, and allow investors, government as well as citizens benefit from transparent operations in the extractive sectors.

“In addition, NEITI will continue to push the boundary of transparency and accountability. We are already going beyond revenue transparency, on the bandwagon of ownership transparency, and do more work on expenditure transparency.

“At a time when most resource-intensive countries are in financial turmoil on account of fall in commodity prices, it is tempting to rain on the openness parade, especially with a country that made more than N70 trillion from oil and gas between 1999 and 2014 to slump into economic recession in the second quarter of 2016.

“By all means, we should ask the N70 trillion question: where did all the money go? But we should never give up on transparency. At a time like this, we need more openness, not less. Sunshine still remains the best disinfectant,” said Adio.

Also, during a recent separate meeting with members of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) led by its National Coordinator, Mr. Emmanuel Onwubiko, NEITI said it was pushing to ensure the installation of adequate metering infrastructure across various metering interfaces in the country’s oil and gas sector.

NEITI said this was top on its agenda, and that due to inadequate metering system, accurate measurement of crude oil production and liftings have been difficult.

It equally said such anomaly makes it difficult to appropriately compute taxes and royalties due to the country, thus leading to huge revenue loss to Nigeria.

“Metering is an issue that is very dear to us”, said Adio in a statement from NEITI.
He added: “NEITI has long established this issue in its first audit of the sector. Since then we have been pushing, and we will continue to push until the issue is addressed.”
He stated that: “If the resources are not being managed transparently, and there is no good governance, it will definitely impinge on human rights.”

Adio explained that all Nigerians need to be part of the decision-making processes in the governance of the nation’s natural resources by taking interest in the information and data contained in the NEITI reports and using the information to hold government and companies accountable.

According to him: “NEITI’s work is about how to make natural resources work for every Nigerian. It is not an issue for a few. It is an issue for everybody.”
A further breakdown of the earnings within the 15-year period according to data which the NEITI sourced from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) statistical bulletin in disclosed that in 1999, the country earned N724.42 billion, in 2000, it earned N1, 591.68 trillion and earned in 2001 – N1, 707.56 trillion.

It further explained that in 2002, N1, 230.85 trillion was earned, in 2003 – N2, 074.28 trillion, in 2004 – N3, 354.80 trillion and N4, 762.40 trillion in 2005.
The country in other years earned 2006 – N5,287.57 trillion, 2007 – N4,462.91 trillion, 2008 – N6,530.60 trillion, 2009 – N3,191.94 trillion, 2010 – N5,396.09 trillion, 2011 – N8,878.97 trillion, 2012 – N8,025.97 trillion, 2013 – N6,809.23 trillion and N6,793.72 trillion in 2014.