From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday received the forensic audit report on the activities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with a promise to swiftly implement its findings. This audit was instituted last year following allegations that $20 billion was not remitted to the nation’s coffers.
But while receiving the report, the President assured it would be handed over to professionals led by the Auditor General of the Federation for swift action to satisfy the yearning of Nigerians who demanded to know the truth about the alleged missing funds.
Former Central Bank Governor (CBN), Charles Soludo, had recently alleged that N30 trillion has not been accounted for by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
He was embittered that a year after she promised forensic audit on the NNPC, it was still ‘missing’.
Soludo had said in his response to Okonjo-Iweala’s attack on his tenure as governor of CBN that, “now add the ‘missing’ $20 billion from the NNPC. You promised a forensic audit report ‘soon’, and more than a year later the report itself is still ‘missing’. This is over N4 trillion, and we don’t know how much more has ‘missed’ since Sanusi cried out. How many trillions of naira were paid for oil subsidy (unappropriated?). How many trillions (in actual fact) have been ‘lost’ through Customs Duty.”
Okonjo-Iweala had disclosed during a debate at the 24th edition of the World Economic Forum for Africa (WEFA), in May last year that government had appointed forensic auditors to carry out a detailed investigation into the activities of NNPC.
The Presidency had on March 12, 2014 announced, through a statement issued by the Presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, that it had authorised the engagement of reputable international firms to carry out the forensic audit of the accounts of NNPC.
It had commissioned the forensic audit in reaction to the claim made by the then suspended Governor of CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, that his decision to expose corruption in the management of oil revenue led to his travails.
It stated then that Sanusi’s suspension had nothing to do with an attempt to cover up his allegation that funds due to the federation account were unaccounted for by NNPC.
Sanusi had stated that $20 billion was not remitted to the federation account by NNPC after his letter to President Jonathan that $49 billion was not remitted to the federation account by NNPC.
Presenting the report earlier, the Country Senior Partner of PriceWaterhouse in Nigeria, Uyi Akpata, the firm just finished its work and were in the State House to submit the report.
According to him, “it is a privilege for us to have carried out this exercise on behalf of the government and I hope you will find this report useful.”
President Jonathan in his remarks, said the submission of the report was timely in view of the controversy that has trailed the alleged missing funds from NNPC.
He said the firm had earlier said it was ready with an interim report but he rejected it and insisted that a full report must be made in view of the interest of Nigerians in the matter.
He said, “there has been so much of controversy over this NNPC and leakages or no leakages. I remember the Senate has also looked into it; it is also good that you professionals have also looked into it.
“What appears in the papers and the speculations is also very high; the figures that I cannot even imagine the country will make is being bandied in the newspapers.
“So I am quite pleased that you have taken the forensic audit. Though it is voluminous, I will give it to the professionals. In government work, there are people that have the statutory responsibilities to handle such assignment, which is the Auditor General of the Federation.
“So the Auditor General will look at it within the week and let us into key highlights because the media will want to know the key findings vis a vis the Senate findings and figured being bandied around in the newspaper because Nigerians are interested.
“Indeed, you mentioned the issue of reform in the sector, everybody knows that the sector needs to be reformed. By the time we go through the Petroleum Industry Bill and pass it into a law, most of these lapses will be corrected and the misconception will be properly addressed.
Source : SunOnline