NNPC And The Missing $49.8bn

Editorial

Last week, Nigerians were shocked to learn that $49.8bn crude oil sales proceed was missing from the federation account. The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, in a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan had accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation of failing to remit $49.8billion (N8trillion) received from the sale of crude during 19 months ending July 2013 into the treasury.

In response to CBN governors allegation, the NNPC refuted the claims that it diverted the said amount. The corporation said that the allegation by the CBN governor was borne out of misunderstanding of the workings of the oil and gas industry and the modality for remitting crude oil sales revenue into the Federation Account.

NNPC’s response has, at best, been obfuscating, and at worst, insulting.

To tell the public that the governor of the CBN does not know how to add up oil receipts, is to say Sanusi does not know the difference between six and half a dozen.

Several other allegations of fraud have been levelled on those who supervise the NNPC. The situation is so bad that Nigerians do not know the actual quantity of crude oil extracted from under its soil each day. In the past, various local and international report have indicted the corporation of lack of transparency. Successive government have also failed to curtail NNPC excesses probably because it sought their interest.

Nigeria is bleeding from corruption and it appears this government has no solution to the problem. The government of President Jonathan appeals to corruption and perhaps may even set the record for the most corrupt government Nigeria has ever had.

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Just last week, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, said President Goodluck Jonathan was encouraging corruption in the country by failing to act on cases found by the legislature to be true. In particular, he drew attention to the purchase of two bulletproof cars for aviation minister Stella Oduah at the cost of N255 million, the failure of anti-graft agency EFCC to account for donor funds it receives, inaction over N1 trillion stolen by fuel importers in the name of “subsidy”, and the mismanagement of billions of naira of the police pension fund.

Other public officers including Finance Minister, Okonjo- Iweala have since reported that about 400, 000 barrels of crude oil were being stolen daily in Nigeria. The NCC spectrum sale scandal, which cost the country about $53 billion, is still haunting us.

As these current affairs show, many daggers have been thrust into the heart of Nigeria. And it is just a matter of time before it bleeds to death. No other country pillaged in this way should hope to survive. $49.8billion can do a lot in Nigeria today. The figure is 40 times the N200billion that forced ASUU to shut down our universities for five months. It’s the equivalent of two years’ federal budget and the combined budgets of a dozen African countries. This fraud must and should never be allowed to be swept under the carpet.

We call on the National Assembly to promptly set up a committee to investigate this issue. We also urge the house to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill as this will go a long way in addressing some of the excesses of the NNPC.

The missing $49.8bn is our collective wealth. This is not the time to feel unconcerned. Nigerians must insist on seeing to the end of this issue. We must insist on knowing how our $49.8bn got missing under the watch of NNPC.