Senators in Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber, yesterday launched a new investigation into a controversial $3.5 billion that was supposedly expended by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for the purpose of petrol importation.
Although it is not exactly clear when this money was spent, a petition brought before the Senate by Senator Abiodun Olujimi is now seeking to establish how exactly it was spent. She is also particularly concerned by the fact that the money was neither included in the budget nor approved by the Senate approve it.
She blamed the Presidency
Meanwhile, the Senator also called out the President Buhari-led administration for jettisoning the initial arrangement for the subsidy fund whereby it is included in the national budget.
In the place of this initial arrangement, the Government set up what is known as the Subsidy Recovery Fund, which is managed by just two officials of the NNPC namely the Managing Director (Mr Maikanti Baru) and the Senior Finance Officer.
Senator Olujimi implied that this is a bad arrangement seeing as it gives room for corruption. Currently, there is some $3.5 billion oil subsidy fund in NNPC coffers which the Senator has described as a ‘slush fund’. She said the money is too big to be left under the management of just to people. She is, therefore, demanding for some accountability.
“What is happening now is that there is a fund named as ‘Subsidy Recovery Fund’, which is being managed only by two individuals at the NNPC. That is the Managing Director and the Executive Director, Finance. This fund is too huge to be managed without recourse to any known law of the land.
“I want to urge this Senate to cause the Downstream Committee to compel the NNPC to come before the committee and explain why this should be so. The new terminology that is now being used is ‘under-recovery’ rather than subsidy approval.” -Senator Abiodun
Meanwhile, the NNPC denies all alleged infractions
A statement issued today by NNPC spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu, denied every alleged infraction on the part of the state-owned oil company. The statement particularly noted that it has not received any $3.5 billion oil subsidy fund.
Instead, the NNPC said it received a $1.05 billion “National Fuel Support Fund which was set up “to ensure stability in the petroleum products supply.” The statement went further to say that the fund is jointly managed by the NNPC, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Ministry of Finance amongst others.
But the Senate is continuing with the investigation
The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki instituted an ad hoc committee headed by Senator Ahmad Lawan to investigate the issue. The investigation will entail interrogation of some officials of the NNPC. The committee will report back to the Senate next week.
An overview of Nigeria’s ‘disgraceful’ fuel importation arrangement
Nigeria imports a large portion of its daily petrol needs despite being one of the top largest producers of crude in the world. This is a shameful situation which the NNPC is now making some efforts to solve through modular refineries.