By Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Transparency International Nigeria (TI) have called on both chambers of the National Assembly to stop further approval of loans for the federal government until all illicit flows are accounted for and recovered.
Addressing the Senate Press Corps on Tuesday, the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, said this will go a long way in reducing the burden of debts on citizens which by extension exacerbates poverty and inequality.
He expressed concerns over the rate at which the Presidency sends requests for approval for borrowing, despite the huge amount of resources wasted by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
He said: ”In late April, while the Senate approved the N5.5 billion for priority projects, the House of Representatives also approved $22.7 billion that was rejected the previous year. The Iatter was said to finance key infrastructure in the country.”
Mentioning some of the misappropriated and mismanaged funds, he said: ”In 2018, findings from a series of audits of the oil and gas sector carried out by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) showed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its upstream arm, NPDC, had failed to remit $21.778 billon and N316.074 billion to the Federation Account. These were amounts due from three main sources: Federation assets divested to NPDC and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company’s (NPDC) legacy liabilities; payments for domestic crude allocation to NNPC; and dividends from investment in Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) paid to but withheld by NNPC.
”The Auditor-General re-affirmed that as of June 30, 2019, 160 agencies defaulted in the submission of audited accounts for 2016; 265 agencies defaulted in submission of audited accounts for 2017; while 11 agencies had never submitted any finance statements since inception. In total, the audit revealed that the sum of N20,675,801,479,59 (N20 billion) in various taxes in the year under review, was not remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Musa further stressed that time and again, civil society organisations and other stakeholders have called for accountability and transparency in the management and utilisation of recovered funds, yet the story remains the same as recovered loots are ‘re-looted’.
He therefore appealed to the lawmakers to refrain from further approval of borrowing and mandate the executive to recover misappropriated and mismanaged funds.