NNPC, NASS on Collision Course as National Oil Company Shuns Senate Summons

NNPC, NASS on Collision Course as National Oil Company Shuns Senate Summons

•Senate backs scrapping of 400 federal agencies to save economy

•Senate backs scrapping of 400 federal agencies to save economy

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

Trouble seems to be looming between the National Assembly and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) over powers of the federal parliament to summon the nation’s major oil firm following its new status as a limited liability company.

The development occurred just as the Senate declared its support for the implementation of the Stephen Orosanye-led Presidential Committee on rationalisation of federal agencies in order to save the country’s dwindling revenue.

The NNPC status changed from full to partial government ownership following the enactment of the new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

The Senate Committee on Finance had on Tuesday summoned the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, to appear before it yesterday.

The GCEO did not appear but he was represented by the General Manager, Public Affairs of the oil company, Mr. Garbadeen Muhammed.

The committee however insisted on seeing the GCEO in person.

The GCEO, according to the Chairman of the Senate panel, did not honour the summons because he thought that since the NNPCL was now a limited liability company and that it had no business appearing before the legislature.

The Chairman of the Committee,

Senator Solomon Adeola, gave the explanations adduced by the NNPCL at the second day of an interactive session on the 2023 – 2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).

He said the NNPCL Liaison Officer in the National Assembly had approached the Clerk to the National Assembly to the effect that it was wrong for the Senate to have invited the GCEO in view of the new status of the national oil company.

Adeola, however, insisted that even though the corporation had been fully privatised, it was still 100 per cent owned by the federal government until private investors acquire needed shares in the company.

He stressed that the company must continue to remain accountable to any arm of government that needed its attention.

He added that the law passed by the National Assembly only empowers the NNPCL to be a regulator and an active participant in the oil industry.

Addressing  the General Manager, Public Affairs of the NNPCL, Mr. Garbadeen Muhammed, the Senate panel said,  “Your Liason Officer told the Clerk to the National Assembly that you are now a limited company and as such the need to be appearing before us is not there.

“And I make it known on national television and am repeating myself: We will summon you, we will invite you, we will call you at any time of the day, at any moment, at any hour that we need your attention.

“You are limited by our laws passed by this National Assembly. That was what changed your status. But you are still 100 per cent owned by the Nigerian government.

“But the powers we have given you is your ability not to only be a regulator but to be an active participant in the industry. That is what we changed in your status.

“Whatever accrues to you, whatever business you enter into is on behalf of the federal government. So please, call that Liaison Officer of yours and correct that impression and that his office erred.

“Tell him that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited is still 100 per cent owned by the federal government until and otherwise stated and that is when we have a major investor coming in to partner with you, that is when our investment in NNPC is divested.”

Speaking further, he said: “There are pertinent issues which were raised here yesterday that are begging for answers and we don’t want to get the answers by proxy. We believe in your expertise and your wealth of experience to attend to everything we want to ask of you.

“But the question and the fact remains that these are decisions and positions that I believe will be beyond you. And that is why we demand that the Group Managing Director of NNPC PLC appear before the National Assembly.

“If we want representative by proxy, it would have been contained in our letter and that is why we directed our letter to him.

“All major players in the MTEF/FSP were here. They included the Hon. Minister of Finance, Director General of Budget Office, Customs, Federal Inland Revenue Service, it was only the NNPCL that gives the figure upon which the MTEF is predicated upon vis-a-vis the benchmark of oil that is absent.

“And given the data and statistics reeled out by the finance minister yesterday which is worrisome in terms of production cost, oil benchmark, oil theft, lack of meeting our set target, consumption of petroleum products as a country and oil subsidy.

“For all of these, we ask and demand of is not by proxy. To that end we demand that he appear in person. If you are the man that will now speak on his behalf, he must be seated with you. Please, I will allow you to go for now for him to return 10 am tomorrow.”

In his reaction, Muhammed said, “Thank you very much sir. May I give you an information that is relevant to this invitation. Am not addressing you.

“The reason why he is not here is not because he does not want to come. I will find out who that Liaison Officer is and talk to him as you said.

“That is number one. Number two is that tomorrow the GMD will be traveling to Morocco to sign the Nigerian-Morocco Transafrican gas Pipeline (agreement).

“This has to do with another country and it will be difficult to shift it forward. And then by the 18th of this month he will be in the President’s contingent to attend the United Nation’s General Assembly. Within this timeframe it will be a bit difficult for him to be here.”

In his response, Adeola said: “Tell him to appear by 5pm today (Wednesday). Thank you.”

The NNPC boss however did not appear before the committee as requested by its chairman before it adjourned proceedings.

Senate Backs Scrapping of 400 Federal Agencies to Save Economy

Meanwhile, the Senate has declared its support for the implementation of the Stephen Orosanye-led Presidential Committee on rationalisation of federal agencies aimed at saving the country from its dwindling revenue profile and economic collapse.

It also advocated the cultivation of cash crops like cocoa, groundnut, rubber and palm oil plantations in the country to further diversify the economy from crude oil.

Adeola, stated this at the second day of an interactive session on the 2023 – 2025 MTEF/FSP.

Adeola expressed confidence that the implementation of the Oronsanye report would help the dwindling revenue situation of the country.

He said over 400 out of the 541 federal government owned Ministries, Departments and Agencies ( MDAs) , would be scrapped as recommended by the report.

The lawmaker explained: “Revenue generation is the most critical factor being considered by the federal government to decide the 106 MDAs to be retained and over 400 others to be scrapped.”

The imminent scrapping of low revenue generating MDAs by the federal government as stated by Adeola  , came to the fore when the Director General of National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus  Ebegba made his presentation of low revenue generation by the agency to the committee .

The DG in his submission said only N2 million had been generated by NBMA this year as against N5million it usually generates on yearly basis, adding that out of the N2 .5 billion appropriated for capital budget this year, only N1.3 billion had been released.

Irked by the poor revenue generation, Senator Adeola told the Biosafety Management Agency boss,  that it was unacceptable for an agency spending N500 million a year outside capital projects to be remitting N5 million into government coffers .

“Government needs revenue for impactful budget implementation, particularly in the area of projects execution and can no longer afford to be dolling money to MDAs without corresponding returns on yearly basis.

 “We in the Senate, are in support of implementation of the Orosanye led panel report to save the economy from self – inflicted bleeding,” he said.

The committee expressed dissatisfaction with the submission made by the Managing Director of Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority ( SRRBDA) , Mr. Buhari Bature Mohammed who said out of the N7 billion collected from government as funding for year 2022, the agency was only able to generate N7 million as revenue.

Adeola said, “There is no way, with the current economic situation that we will not implement Oronsanye report.

“It is part of the report that some staff will stay while others have to go because government can no longer continue to fund agencies that are liabilities and government cannot continue to be a Father Christmas.”

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