Anti-corruption: How Buhari shields NNPC on controversial transactions

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The skepticism of selective anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari keeps resurfacing whenever issues of improper financial transactions in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are in contention in the government circle.

The Federal Allocation Account Committee (FAAC) has been having deadlock at various meetings since the beginning of 2018 over incomplete transfer of revenue from the NNPC to the Federation Account. Commissioners for Finance from the 36 states of the Federation often voice out dissatisfactions of the withholding of a proportion of revenue to be transferred to the Federation Account by the NNPC. The phenomenon also provoked disquiets in Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) over managing of the federal finance in the NNPC.

The 36 Governors in Nigeria in June rejected the remittance of the NNPC to the Federation Account for third time in accordance with the third quarterly meeting of the year. Accordingly, the third quarterly meeting of FAAC in June ended deadlocked as governors persisted in rejection of the financial report NNPC presented to them. National Dailyobserved that this the third time FAAC meeting was ending without resolution since January 2018.

While the controversies linger, there was no executive order from the president for thorough investigation on the controversial remittance and the financial crisis is generates.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum, was said to have indicated intention to meet officials of the NNPC over allegations of failure of the corporation to make accurate remittances to Federation Account in the month of June.

National Daily gathered that the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, revealed the President’s readiness to intervene  after a meeting with Governors Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State and Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

It is an irony that the president had waited until the third consecutive re-occurrence of inaccurate remittances by the NNPC before signifying his willingness to intervene, this is more so, when he has not considered the need for detailed investigations.

The Minister of Finance had warned last week stated that if the issues that led to the deadlock of the meeting were not resolved; salaries might be affected in the states.

The committee members of FAAC questioned some of the costs claimed by NNPC which eat deep into the revenue generated, contending that they cannot be justified, thus, they withheld approval of the NNPC accounts.

Meanwhile, it was disclosed that President Buhari could be meeting with NNPC management with the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, to reconcile the accounts towards resolving the financial impasse at a date yet to be decided.

Before the controversy, the Minister of State, Minister of Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Buhari’s appointee, had raised alarm over $26 billion contract awards by the GMD of NNPC without due process. Proper investigation was not ordered, rather the President intervened, after a meeting with Kachikwu, told the Minister of State to go and work with Baru, NNPC GMD.  President Buhari thereafter, directed the NNPC GMD to respond to the petition Kachikwu sent to the President, himself.

The NNPC GMD did not deny those contracts or the processes which corroborated Kachikwu’s petition; the GMD merely argued that Kachikwu did same when he was NNPC GMD before his ministerial appointment; and turned to protest the GMD actions which were same as what Kachikwu did during his tenure.

And the matter died there.

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