Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate yesterday mandated the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to probe the reported payment of the sum of $18,323,032,261.03 as dividend from Nigeria’s 53 percent investment in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) between 2004 and 2020.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Olamilekan Adeola, gave the directive following disclosures made by an NLNG top official at the public hearing on revenue generation drive for the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).
He asked the AGF, Ahmed Idris, to among others, confirm if the amount was actually remitted to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which represents the interest of Nigeria in the NLNG.
Other terms of reference of the Accountant General, according to Adeola, include to determine how much was actually remitted to the Federation Account, and to also find out if there was any deduction by NNPC; how much was deducted and who authorised the deductions and the exchange rates applied for the amount that was remitted over the years under review.
While giving the AGF two weeks to complete his assignment, the committee chairman inquired from him if he can confirm the payment of the humongous dividends to the Federation Account.
Responding, Idris said such cannot be immediately verified as the dividend is usually paid to NNPC, which is the representative of Nigeria in the company. The General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development of NLNG, Mrs. Eyono Fatai-Williams, had earlier presented a financial summary of the company from 1999 to 2019 indicating that it had paid a dividend of over $18 billion to Nigeria from 2004 to 2020, stressing that NLNG is committed to a culture of transparency and integrity.
According to her, the NLNG had in the last 16 years remitted $18 billion to the NNPC as dividends to the federal government.
She gave the breakdown of the $18 billion remitted to NNPC on behalf of the federal government to NNPC to include $278,860,715.00 for 2004; $57,425460.17 for 2005; $332,979,540.83, 2006; 2007($842,956,858.80); 2008($2,613,170,000.00); 2009($848,680,000.00); 2010($1,401,400,000.00); 2011($2,509,780,000.00), and 2012($2,768,990.00). Others are 2013($1,260,704,340.00); 2014($1,389,908,436.93); 2015($1,043,764,965.12); 2016($356,126,898.440; 2017($798,140,840.45); 2018($904,498,502.96), and 2019($915,645,702.33).
She also revealed that the NLNG also paid $9 billion as tax to the federal government from 2011 to date, while $15 billion had also been remitted for field gas to the NNPC since the inception of the company.
In his short sermon, Pastor Ola Omoseebi, said Olumilua had taught a lesson of how Nigerian leaders can shun materialism, arrogance and corruption, which have been the bane of leadership in the country, with his Spartan and disciplined nature.