YNaija Editorial: On the missing $20 Billion oil funds

by the Editorial team

NNPCWhile the CBN governor has become a thorn in the NNPC’s flesh, the corporation’s handling of these very weighty allegations has been disturbing to say the least. It does not speak well of the GEJ administration that an agency, supposed to be under the supervision of the petroleum minister carries on with all the impunity of a military junta.

Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has been quite the busy bee. Sanusi it was who sometime last year, wrote a letter to the presidency accusing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of failing to remit $49.8 billion belonging to the federation account; a value that represents 76% of the crude oil liftings between 2012 and 2013. Following hurried consultations and disclosure meetings with the ministries of Finance, Petroleum, the NNPC, and relevant authorities, the number was pruned down to $10.8 billion, with the NNPC insisting most of the monies was spent on paying subsidies for fuel and kerosene. But Sanusi remained defiant, rebounding with a figure of $20 billion dollars in oil sales reciepts(About 3 trillion Naira) as monies unaccounted for by the NNPC between January 2012 and July 2013jh.

While the CBN governor has become a thorn in the NNPC’s flesh, the corporation’s handling of these very weighty allegations has been disturbing to say the least. It does not speak well of the GEJ administration that an agency, supposed to be under the supervision of the petroleum minister carries on with all the impunity of a military junta.

As expected, NNPC spokespersons have commenced on a denial rampage; in press statements and on television appearances claiming that there was never any written notification terminating kerosene subsidy payments but media investigations as well as documents presented by the CBN proved Mallam Sanusi’s reveal otherwise. The NNPC has since gone from calling the CBN governor an error prone meddler to stating flatly as the GMD did at the senate committee hearing that the missing money simply does not exist within the corporation.

But the most telling moment of this seedy drama was the testimony by the petroleum minister Diezani Alison Madueke as she attempted to explain the illegal continuation of the subsidy on DPK even after a presidential directive had been delivered to her ministry back in 2009. Madam Madueke left Nigerians bereft of words as she made one claim after the other and gave excuse after excuse for the monumental fraud supervised under her ministry. She told her audience that the presidential memo was not gazetted by the Yaradua administration and so she had no compulsion to obey before adding that an interministeral committee acting on behalf of the Nigerian masses decided to continue with the payments, all in a patriotic bid to help Nigerians. In short the minister did everything else but own up directly to the fraud in her ministry. Ditto the ministry of finance whose minister (also the coordinating minister of the economy) could not explain why NNPC is even allowed to make deductions before remitting money to the federation account despite an existing court order.

The revelationss at the committee hearing- only in it’s second day- have brought to the fore the sleazy and irresponsible nature of running government affairs in this country. The sad truth is that none of these characters; not any of the ministers nor the NNPC executives nor even the middle men benefitting from the sham kerosene subsidy at the expense of the masses would ever think of running their private businesses the way that the country is run. But because everyone else is on the take, the rest just cannot be bothered and the government is ever willing to turn a blind eye to corruption, the impunity has mounted to this stage.

Kudos must be given to the CBN governor for exposing this filth and about N543,890,398,525 ($3.1 billion lost to this most heinous of economic crimes might just be recovered. And that should be the next step for the GEJ administration. Recovering every penny lost to these middle men and unleashing the full might of the law on the culprits should be top of the agenda. Streamlining the activities of the NNPC and if we must, unbundling it to make way for a less toxic petroleum sector that thrives and makes impact to the average Nigerian.

If the current heads of ministries and agencies from their body language are not prepared to commence the cleaning house process that must be done, then they should make way for the full wrath of the law to take it’s course. Nigerians have been taken for a ride for far too long and this is one scandal that must not be allowed to go away. Heads must roll Mr president and yes, there must be blood.

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