Members of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) has kick-started a probe aimed at uncovering the mystery surrounding the delay by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to remit the $1.48 billion (N294.5 billion) uncovered by a recent forensic audit into government coffers.
FAAC’s decision to set up a ministerial investigative panel to probe the non-remittance of the fund, months after the Auditor General of the Federation, Samuel Ukura, asked the NNPC to remit the funds while presenting extracts of the audit report, was reached during its March edition of the monthly meeting on Monday night in Abuja.
According to Mr. Timothy Odaah, Chairman of Forum of Finance Commissioners of FAAC, the probe becomes necessary as the committee was worried that the delay in remitting the funds despite President Goodluck Jonathan’s directive that it should be released to the federation account was “negatively impacting the revenue available for distribution among the tiers of government”.
The Commissioner explained to journalists that the remittance of the funds has become compelling in view of the consistent drop in revenue allocations to the three tiers of government as a result of dwindling oil revenue from declining global oil prices. “We (states) need the money to meet their obligations. Majority of the states are yet to pay salaries of workers and contractors for projects executed. We are therefore making a clarion call for the release of the $1.48 billion from the forensic audit of the NNPC so that we can clear our debts”, he declared.
The committee, says Mr. Odaah, has been mandated to meet with the NNPC management to resolve all issues delaying the remittance, particularly as both the President and the Petroleum Resources minister have already directed that payment be made.“We need that money. The Federal Government needs it. The states and local governments also need it, and if it is not released with this type of abysmal funding we have seen, it will be very terrible,” he emphasized.
It would be recalled that the ‘yet to declassified’ forensic audit report conducted by PriceWaterHouseCoopers audit firm on behalf of the Federal Government to probe the allegation of the missing $20 billion, indicted the management of the national oil company for various questionable transactions.
According to the presidency, the audit was able to establish that only $1.48 billion was missing and also recommended that the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the upstream subsidiary of the NNPC, refund the money ($1.48) billion to the Federation Account.
By Olisemeka Obeche