Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The meeting of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) for the month of April was Wednesday postponed, the second time in a row, as controversy again dogged the remittances by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Federation Account.
The FAAC meeting for March where the representatives of the three tiers of government had gathered to disburse revenue that had accrued to the account for the month of February had ended in a stalemate due to a shortfall of about N37.7 billion in NNPC remittances for that month.
It took the intervention of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who pleaded with the governors before the meeting was reconvened for the sharing of revenue to the various tiers of government.
The Chairman, Finance Commissioners Forum, Mallam Yunusa Mahmoud, who confirmed the postponement of the FAAC meeting for March Wednesday, described the situation as unfortunate.
He stated that the development had prompted the governorsâ€™ intervention again, adding that the governors held a â€œhigh-level meetingâ€ with top officials of NNPC Wednesday in Abuja.
â€œWe have some challenges, the figures we have gotten is far below what we expected to be remitted by NNPC. As it is now, there is a meeting between the governors and the top management of NNPC at the State House.
â€œI believe this is a very high-level deliberation and something good will come out of it,â€ he said.
According to him, the NNPC was duty-bound to carry FAAC stakeholders along in its business, adding that anything short of transparency in the rendition would elicit questions.
â€œThere are processes okay. Before now, you did not hear such news, but because this government is a government of change, some level of transparency is expected.
â€œWhen you pick your figures and you submit your figures, the person that is supposed to look at it and deliberate on it will ask questions if need be,â€ he said.
On whether NNPC’s action was not tantamount to deliberately shortchanging the Federation Account, Mahmoud said it was too hasty to hold the position.
He said: â€œI donâ€™t want to use the word insincerity. What happened could be an error. If one party is wrong, the other party is right; if you add it together at the end of the day you make progress.
â€œThe last FAAC meeting was postponed twice and at the end of the day, we made progress. That was during the Easter break.
â€œBut in the spirit of Easter, we held a meeting, because we were looking at the plight of the workers that were supposed to receive their salaries as and when due, but based on the submission we have now, some states will not pay salaries now.
â€œWhat we are doing now is we have to table where we will discuss. That is why the matter is at the highest level and is being discussed now.â€