By Kayode Sesan
Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai has labeled the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as a “Den of Thieves”. This is coming shortly after President Buhari constituted a panel to probe the NNPC’s financial operations. The panel comprises Governors Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna).
El Rufai took to his official Facebook Page on Tuesday to label the NNPC as a “Den of Thieves” even before the probe panel had concluded its findings.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) generated about N8.1trillion between 2012 and May 2015, but paid only N4.3trillion to the federation account, Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, said Monday.
The Edo governor also disclosed $2.1 billion was withdrawn from $4.1 billion reported to be in the excess crude account as at November 2014 without the approval of the National Economic Council (NEC). The account now has $2.0bilion.
“We looked at the numbers for the Excess crude account, the last time the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy reported to the Council and it is in the minute, she reported by November 2014, that we had $4.1 billion.
“But today the Accountant General Office reported we have $2.0 billion. Which means the Honourable Minister spent $2.1billion without authority of the NEC. And that money was not distributed to states, it was not paid to the three tiers of government. This is why the NEC has set up a panel to look at what accrued, what it was spent for, when and by whom. So that Nigerians will have the full picture of all the transactions as regards the much talked about Excess crude,” Mr. Oshiomhole said.
But in a counter claim, the former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, has described allegations that she spent $2.1 billion out of the Excess Crude Account (ECA) “without authorisation” as “false, malicious and totally without foundation.”
“We want to state categorically that no unauthorised expenditure from the ECA was made under Okonjo-Iweala’s watch in the Ministry of Finance. Decisions on such expenditure were discussed at the meetings of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) attended by the finance commissioners of the 36 states.
It is curious that in their desperation to use the NEC for political and personal vendetta, the persons behind these allegations acted as if the constitutionally recognised FAAC, a potent expression of Nigeria’s fiscal federalism, does not exist.
But Nigerians know that collective revenues, allocations and expenditures of the three-tiers of government are the concern of the monthly FAAC meetings,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
She further noted that the allegation was intended to smear her reputation as has been attempted in the past and stated resolutely that she is ready to defend her service to the country as the minister of finance.