• Diezani: We’ve started repaying
•Says ‘No plan to flee Nigeria’
Far from being over, the controversy over alleged missing oil remittances may have only just begun. Although the outgoing government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says forensic report has put the figure at $1.48 billion dollars, the incoming party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), says it has evidence that the sum is pretty much higher.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, on Wednesday told State House Correspondents that the $1.48 billion is already being refunded to the Federation Account. The forensic audit was conducted by an international audit firm, PriceWaterHouse Cooper (PwC), after the then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), now Emir of Kano, His Highness Muhammad 11, caused an uproar that about $49 billion had been misappropriated from the account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He later brought the figure down to $20 billion at a Senate hearing on the allegation, while the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala put it at $10.8 billion. But faulting the amount, the APC Presidential Campaign Director, Policy, Research and Strategy, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, told Bloomberg that the NNPC would need to refund more than $1.48 billion. Fayemi added that the incoming APC administration of General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) would publish the full audit report of the NNPC and expects that the corporation will need to repay the government more than previously recommended.
The APC had during the recent election campaign asked the PDP-led Federal Government to publish the full report of the audit report, not the abridged version that was released by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF). Fayemi said: “I have a figure that’s more than $1.5 billion that’s been talked about. We’ve seen credible information that what PwC says is more than that. We will release the report. We’ll make it available to Nigerians as soon as we have full information on this.” Fayemi disclosed that the APC may also reorganise the NNPC, adding “NNPC will not be in the form or shape it’s currently in. Some measure of unbundling will happen.”
Daily Times learnt that Fayemi travelled out to the United Kingdom shortly after granting the interview to Bloomberg in Lagos on Tuesday. Speaking to State House correspondents at the end of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Alison-Madueke disclosed that the NNPC had started refunding $1.48bn into the Federation Account as recommended by PwC. She however did not disclose how much had so far been refunded by the corporation.
The Federation Account Allocation Committee had on Monday night constituted a committee to find out the reasons for the delay in the refund of the sum. According to the AGF, PriceWaterHouse Coopers had in its forensic audit report recommended that the NNPC refund the amount to the Federation Account.
The AGF report had quoted PWC to have stated that while the total gross revenue generated from crude oil lifting was $69.34bn between January 2012 and July 2013 and not $67bn as earlier stated by the Senate Reconciliation Committee, what was remitted to the Federation Account was $50.81bn and not $47bn. The audit report was credited as revealing that $28.22bn was the value of domestic crude oil allocated to the NNPC, adding that total amount spent on subsidy for Premium Motor Spirit was $5.32bn. Alison-Madueke however explained that the unremitted fund was owed by NPDC for a block that had been assigned from NNPC to NPDC.
She said: “The PriceWater- House Coopers forensic audit that was done a few weeks ago, in its recommendation mentioned that $1.48bn was owed by NPDC for a block that had hitherto been assigned from the NNPC to NPDC which is its subsidiary.
“They felt that the right process would be that NPDC will refund that money to the Federation Account. NPDC has apparently started those refunds and it is also in discussion with NNPC and DPR on same. So the refund has actually begun.”
While saying that the payment was being done under her directives, she insisted that the sum was not missing but transferred by the NNPC to NPDC which is a subsidiary.
In a related development, Alison-Madueke, on Wednesday, denied reports that she was on the run on account of her activities and some actions she had taken while in charge of the Petroleum sector.
Lately, there had been reports that the minister was seeking asylum in several countries over fears that the incoming administration of General Buhari, might probe her activities at the petroleum ministry.
She disclosed this while speaking to with State House Correspondents, adding that there was no need for her to flee Nigeria as she had not committed any offence.
“Let me state it clearly for the records that Nigeria is my country and I am not going anywhere. I love my country and I do think that I have done the best for my country”, the minister said.
Alison-Madueke explained that she had done the best for the country and attained many firsts in the history of oil and gas industry especially in the reforms that had taken place.
She also denied that she had been meeting with some former Heads of State including General Abdusalami Abubakar to protect and save her name.
The minister noted that Gen. Abdusalami had already addressed the issue when he described the story as unnecessary mischief.
She said: “I have the privilege of meeting with many senior statesmen, during that course of my job in the Federal Executive Council and I was surprised that he should be singled out in any such form.
“I have not sought such assistance because I am not aware that I have been indicted of any crime that I will need a soft landing. Over the last four years, I have been severely and unfortunately accused and labelled in so many malicious and vindictive ways.
“I have explained these things and pushed back robustly on these accusations and I have even gone to court on many of them. Yet, they keep being regurgitated and I think it is unfortunate, particularly when we are moving into a transition period and looking forward to an incoming government which is coming to take over where we have ended.
“For everything that has a beginning there is an end and that is not a surprise. What is the surprise is the sort of malevolence bordering on personal malicious libel to my person during this period of time”.
Alison-Madueke however admitted that she had stepped on many toes in the cause of reforming the oil industry, adding that the cabal in the sector were not happy that she opened up the industry to Nigerians.
According to her, she had been maligned and castigated for her efforts to ensure that the oil in dustry is brought back to perform optimally for the interest of the nation and all Nigerians.
Her words: “We have done enough for this industry, we cannot please everybody. Yes, we have stepped on toes but we did that in the best interest of Nigeria and we have opened up the oil and gas industry to all Nigerians, thousands of Nigerians have benefited from our reforms in the system.
“I have said several times that we will open up the industry to all Nigerians and we have, but that is not to the pleasure of a certain cabal and I have been continuously maligned because of this and we have taken millions and in fact billions of dollars out of the hands of non performing multinationals and their subcontractors and put them in the hands of Nigerians through the Nigerian content law. Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have come into the oil and gas industry because of our reforms.
“I think as unprecedented as it is, it does not please everybody and that cannot be helped but let us remember the unprecedented reforms that have happened in the oil industry during our time such as major gas reforms, the Petroleum Industry Bill, which has been completely revised, reformed and put into the hands of members of the National Assembly where it has languished for two years”.