The Chairman House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Dakuku Peterside, on Wednesday said that the missing $49.8 billion is a major example of issues which have caused the nation’s economic setback.
According to him, the said the amount is equivalent to three years budget.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Peterside welcomed the backlash the CBN letter generated, as the issue of inconsistencies in NNPC’s accounts did not get the deserved attention until Sanusi Lamido wrote a letter to the President.
“For the first time, an authority of government is beginning to question the opaque transactions of the NNPC,” he said.
He referred to questions raised by NEITI on the activities of the petroleum agency.
“You will also recall that in past, the national assembly of Nigeria which is constitutionally empowered to expose corruption, wastage and leakages had raised issues about unremitted funds by the NNPC.
“You’ll recall that not too long ago, the Nigeria Governor’s Forum raised issues about the opaque conduct of its (NNPC) business which is indeed the cooperation of government manning the oil and gas sector.
“If the CBN letter has achieved nothing else, for once, it had called to question the way NNPC conducts its business and at the highest level of government,” he said, adding that the controversy has raised awareness amongst Nigerians that there are questions to be asked and that there’s need to pay more attention to how NNPC conducts its business on our behalf.”
He further attributed the stagnation of the nation’s economic development to the missing $49.8 billion, which he said is the equivalent of three years budget.
You can understand why other countries that were at the same point where we were in 1960 have made a lot of economic progress than us, he said, crediting the growth to the better management of their economic resources.
Reacting to the NNPC’s response to the CBN, accusing the apex bank of playing politics via its letter to the president, Mr Peterside argued that the oil sector accounts for 80% of the nation’s revenue “therefore, all of us must be interested in what’s going on.”
Discrepancies in oil revenue affect the budget and determine the economic development of the country
He also questioned NNPC’s defence regarding the issues raised by the NNPC.
“Can we earn more from petroleum profit tax and related taxes than we earn from the sale of crude oil itself?, he asked, adding that “is it possible that CBN (the banker to government as well as the NNPC and chief economic adviser to the nation) does not have basic statistics on the volume of crude oil exported out of the country on a daily, monthly and yearly basis?”
The NNPC had denied owing the Federation Account the said amount of money because it is only responsible for paying revenue made from equity crude, one of the five streams through which the CBN receives monies from crude oil transactions.