House Probes Alleged N100bn Under-remittance by Corporation

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However, the House of Representatives Tuesday passed a motion, seeking to set up an ad hoc committee to probe crude oil sales by the corporation in May and June 2018, as well as other sources of funds to the corporation, and report back within two weeks for further legislative action.

The lawmakers alleged that over N100 billion might have been under-remitted by the NNPC within the period under review.

This followed a motion brought ‘under matters of urgent public importance’, by Hon. Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta).

He noted that the monthly meeting of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) for June could not hold due to under-remittance by the corporation.

He said it would not be the first time that the NNPC had failed to pay what was fully due to the federation, thereby stalling the pace of government business across the country.

The lawmaker regretted that the issue was coming at a period when crude oil prices had risen appreciably in the international market above the budget benchmark.

The investigation will look into the volume of crude production, total sales and how much was utilised as Joint Venture cash calls, as well as exchange rate gains within the period under review.

Leading the debate, Ossai said the deadlocked FAAC meeting meant that the 36 states were left without reasonable funds to run their affairs.

He expressed shock that the NNPC could not remit money, in spite of the fact crude oil was sold above $75 and higher than the $51 benchmark in the 2018 budget.

Ossai said many less resource-endowed states and local governments depend on the allocations for monthly payment of salaries and allowances of its workers, adding that by the default of NNPC, many workers will be unable to get their monthly salary for June.

He said: “If the states are unable to get their allocations from FAAC as and when due, they will not be able to pay salaries or run essential services.”

“It is already happening today that many states are owing arrears of salaries. So, let us find out what is happening with our crude sales to ascertain the actual sales. They should give us records from January to July, this year,” he added.

He added that if not properly investigated and addressed, the NNPC will rise up in no distant month to declare no revenue from the nation’s oil and gas business under its care.

N’Assembly Transmits Petroleum Industry Governance Bill to Buhari for Assent

In another development, THISDAY gathered that the leadership of the National Assembly transmitted the harmonised 10-year-old PIGB to President Buhari on July 3 for his assent.

The reform bill, which was initiated by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and sent to the sixth National Assembly headed by Senator David Mark in 2008, had been enmeshed in controversy due to some of its provisions.

The Senate had on March 28 passed the PIGB having adopted the report of the conference committee of the bill, which harmonised the versions earlier passed by both Senate and House of Representatives.

The harmonised version of the Bill, which is the first leg of the four bills created from the old Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), seeks to, among others, unbundle the NNPC and merge its subsidiaries such as the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), into one entity.

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had at a function in Abuja in June, listed the objectives of the PIGB to include transforming the administration of the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the Nigerian petroleum industry.

His words: “Firstly, the Bill creates a framework that will free up acreages that are not being developed by current licence and lease holders, thereby creating opportunities for new investors. This will bring substantial new investment to our oil and gas industry.

“Secondly, it ensures effective management of the environment by petroleum operators and administrators.

“Thirdly, it provides a framework to unleash midstream activities which will open up the market for the supply of gas and other downstream products, for economic growth. Above all, I believe the most important feature of this bill is that it provides much needed legal backing for the deregulation of our downstream petroleum sector.”