Nov. 23, 2013
Musa Abdullahi Krishi & Ibrahim Kabiru Sule
Following recent revelations that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has remitted only $7 billion out of $20.9 ($13.9bn about N22trn) of crude oil sales this year, the House of Representatives yesterday said it will investigate non-remittance of crude oil sales by the corporation.
The house resolved to set up an ad hoc committee that will look into the issue with a view to ascertaining the volume and value of crude oil sales and remittances into the Federation Account from January to date and report back within four weeks.
This is coming as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi last week alleged that $5 billion disappeared from the Excess Crude Account.
Amaechi, who said Nigerians should ask relevant questions on how the nation’s resources are being managed by the NNPC and the Finance Ministry, added that the ECA, which had a balance of $9 billion in January, had inexplicably dwindled to $4 billion without explanation by the federal government.
He said: “The Excess Crude Account in January was N9 billion. That account belongs to the federal, states and local governments. Today it is N4 billion. We don’t know who took the N5 billion. Nigerians need to ask where the money has gone and why their money is being used as private funds.”
But moving the motion for the investigation yesterday, Rep Haruna Manu (PDP, Taraba) expressed concern “by the information credited to the NNPC on the status and remittances to the Federation Account and claim that the total crude oil sales from January to August, 2013 was 20 billion US dollars, whereas the NNPC remitted only 7 billion US Dollars to the Federation Account.”
Manu, who noted that “a shortfall of 13 billion US Dollars is unaccounted for in the period of January to August 2013,” added that “from September to date, no proper accounts have been rendered by the NNPC or records kept to show the actual amount and volume of crude oil sales by the NNPC.”
He said there have been lingering issues of accountability and arbitrary management of oil revenue by NNPC, saying there was a need to compel the corporation to render accounts of how much it derived from crude oil sales within the period and the actual amount it paid into the Federation Account.
Contributing to the motion, Rep Aminu Suleiman (PDP, Kano) and Rep Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) argued that the investigation has become necessary considering the amount involved, saying an ad hoc committee would do a good job.
On their part, Rep Hassan El-Badawy (APC, Yobe) and Yakubu Balogun (APC, Lagos) said the revelations were disturbing as such act by the NNPC would jeopardize Nigeria’s future. They argued that the matter went beyond the period raised by the mover of the motion by about five years.
Meanwhile, the House yesterday also resolved to investigate the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the country’s oil and gas exports, in view of the imminent threat to the economy of Nigeria.
The members tasked the committees on petroleum resources, both upstream and downstream, national planning and that of finance to spotlight the matter by inviting relevant government ministries and agencies and come up with appropriate recommendations for the house.
The lawmakers noted that since the discovery of shale gas through hydraulic fracturing/fracking, Nigeria’s crude oil market has been “under serious threat”, especially as the country over-relied on oil as its major source of revenue.
Rep. Ben Nwankwo, who sponsored the motion told the house that effect of this discovery has resulted in making the country’s economy extremely vulnerable in the face of slightest global oil developments, even as the legislators noted the process’ negative impact on the domestic gas prices in the United States.
“The process causes the rocks to fracture and allows recovery, in commercial quantity, of shale gas and oil that was trapped in the rocks,” stressing however that “the dominance of global oil supplies is currently under threat by the widespread use of fracking and horizontal drilling in producing oil and gas,” they further observed.
While expressing concern about the inherent dangers in the process, the house lamented the continued shrinking of the volume of oil being imported into the United States from Nigeria, since the discovery of the process by the US, adding that only five percent share of the Nigerian crude oil was imported to the US in the first half of 2013.
The house also said that due to the threats in the dwindling revenue from crude oil, the implementation of the 2013 budget came under financial hiccups and therefore resolved to unravel the intricacies involved in the process with a view to averting further threats to the country’s economy.
In another development, the house has also passed into second reading a bill for an “act to amend the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s metre reading, billing, cash collection and credit management for electricity supplies regulation, No 42 of 2007.”
Rep. Yaqoob E. A Bush, who sponsored the bill told the House that when it finally becomes law, the bill will address matters relating to outstanding liability on electricity bills in rented apartments.