NNPC’s “value shortfalls” and obvious oddness of callous National Assembly

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By Ifeanyi Izeze

How else can anyone describe it if not to say that Nigeria under the government of General Mohammadu Buhari’s administration is full of obvious aberrations and the most tragic aspect of these absurdities is that nobody says nor does anything to query them. Nigerians just carry on as if ‘nothing spoil,’ while conducts around government keep moving from bad to worse and even to the abominable.

Of course this is what a people get when they tolerate a dubious national assemblage of dishonourable men especially the senate of baboons where anything goes.

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Is it not absurd that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will unilaterally decide what it’s going to dish to us as the figure of our daily domestic petrol consumption; unilaterally import same vacuous volume from wherever (as they tell us); and then goes ahead to also unilaterally pay themselves by deducting whatever amount from the nation’s sale of crude oil before paying whatever is left into the Federation Allocation Account (FAAC) to be shared by the federal, state, and local governments in the country?

As National assembly of the Nigerian people, you did not budget for subsidy payments in this fiscal year and every month a company representing the government’s interests in the nation’s oil and gas business would pay itself hundreds of billions of naira as offsets of expenses incurred in subsidizing petrol and you allow it go for well over seven months now and still counting. You that appropriate fiscal responsibilities for our government will sit down and watch pretending to be helpless. Haba, something is not adding up at all walahi!

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Incredibly, the NNPC has thus far spent a total of N905.27bn on petrol subsidy in eight months. And with the nation’s premium benchmark crude benchmark, Bonny Light, nearing $80 per barrel, the landing cost of imported petrol and subsidy from NNPC’s warped calculus are expected to increase. This is Nigeria my country!

NNPC as it claimed incurred N25.37bn subsidy cost in January, N60.40bn in February, N111.97bn in March, and N126.30bn in April and N114.34bn in May.

The subsidy cost rose from N143.29bn in June to N175.32bn in July but fell to N149.28bn in August.

As disclosed, the August 2021 value shortfall of N149,283,084,869.20 was deducted from the September 2021 proceeds due for sharing at the October, 2021 FAAC meeting.

So with no provision for petrol subsidy in the 2021 budget, the NNPC resorted to direct deduction from FAAC remittance not minding that these deductions affect the revenues accruable to the federation.

In April, the corporation claimed that subsidy cost made the corporation not make any remittance to the FAAC in May. Can you imagine that? And the absurd was swallowed quietly and shamelessly by a Senate that was supposed to be at the forefront of protecting the interests of the Nigerian people! Why the politicians and operators of this government no de fear God again?

These Senators, do they actually represent the interests of the Nigerian people that sent them to the club in Abuja? Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, in real essence, the National Assembly not budgeting any specific amount for the offset of the petrol import bills was all part of the scam to grant an open-ended pipe to the NNPC/Presidency to do what they want with revenues from our crude oil sale.

On the surface it looked patriotic that the lawmakers refused to provide for the payment of fuel subsidy to stop the stealing of our commonwealth by a few privileged people but beyond the surface, it is now unveiling that it may actually have been a ploy to allow the operators of the nation’s apex oil concern freehand to do whatever they want and “report back to the House.”

How do you explain that the NNPC unilaterally deducts and spends the money that was supposed to go into Federation Account as if the operators of the corporation who are agents of the Presidency/central government do not know that the monies are co-owned by the other two tiers of government and not that of the federal government alone?

These are all part of the fall-outs in the absurd of what we call a federal system of government in Nigeria. Why should the NNPC on its own throw figures around as imported volumes of petrol and goes ahead to pay itself for what it calls “value shortfall,” another English name for “under recovery” and “subsidy” without recourse to the other two tiers of government: states and local governments?

Speaking on Arise Television on Friday 1st October Muhammadu Sanusi II, former Emir of Kano, came out to say that payment of fuel subsidy by the federal government is a “scam” that some people in power are using make billions themselves. How true!

His words: “We have this scheme called the subsidy, which is really a scam, and practically everything that comes in, goes right back out — to import petroleum products and pay subsidies on those products. I’m not saying subsidies, themselves, are bad but look at the numbers.”

Whether the people that run our government want to hear this or not, most of the numbers the NNPC dangles from the country’s importation of petrol are “phantom” and our monies are being siphoned through claimed subsidising of purported imports of ghost fuel that never came into the shores of this country.

How long can we continue like this in this country?

Is it not clear that the only reason this NNPC ever-increasing import and subsidy scam makes sense and has continued is that there are a number of people who control the levers of power, who are making billions and billions of dollars out of the scam?

The Ahmed Lawan-led 9th Senate has continued to stand out as the worst set so far since 1999. Anything goes most times grossly against the will and interests of the Nigerian public. When will the National Assembly particularly the Senate wake up their ideas and square up to their responsibilities as representatives and defenders of the commony man’s interests? God de!