Will proposed audit services commission open up NNPC’s accounts?
by ISAAC ANYAOGU
March 5, 2018 | 8:49 am| | | Start Conversation
NNPC has pretty much operated its accounts with about as much scrutiny as an Italian mafia operation can allow before it started publishing its monthly financial and operations report in 2015. It looks as if the Federal Audit Services Commission Bill may come in handy, but one can only dream.
The Senate recently passed for concurrence the Federal Audit Services Commission Bill after harmonisation by the two chambers of the legislature. Still waiting on the president’s assent, it seeks to establish the Federal Audit Services Commission and the office of Auditor-General of the Federation with provision for additional powers and functions.
While there is already an Auditor-General for the Federation provided for by the 1999 Constitution, the Bill, if passed, will give more powers to and expand the functions of the Auditor-General by establishing a commission.
The Bill will empower the commission to carry out audits of all revenues accruing to the federation, expenditures of the federation from all sources, donations, grants and loans accruable to the federal ministries, departments and agencies or other public entities.
The commission will also be empowered to carry out performance audit by ensuring that the business of the federal government and its agencies is economically, efficiently and effectively performed. It will have powers to audit classified expenditure, international institutions to the extent of Nigeria’s contribution to such bodies, and all counterpart-funded projects by the federal government and its agencies in the country.
But it is unclear how much this will open up NNPC’s account which is famous for its opacity. Despite claiming to publish a monthly operations and financial reports, NNPC’s figures are not audited and major transactions are not included.
In its 2015 audit report released in January, the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) said NNPC failed to remit a total of $16.8 billion it earned as dividend for its 49 percent stake in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) to the Federation Account in 16 years.
This continues a pattern of non-remittance despite several invitations by the national assembly for heads of the NNPC to explain reasons for non-remittance. Last year, NEITI said that between 2000 and 2014, the NNPC had received $15.8 billion as dividend but there was no evidence that it remitted same to the Federation Account.
NNPC provides scant information about its financial activities when subjected to probes and recently rejected a Freedom of Information application from human rights lawyer, Femi Falana. Therefore, the commission notwithstanding, it doesn’t seem there is much cause to cheer in anticipation for a transparent national oil company.
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