The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts on Tuesday received the report on the $74.386 billion spent on fuel subsidies by successive administrations since 2001.
Ogbonnaya Orji, the executive secretary/CEO of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) handed over the report to Bamidele Salam, the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts during an interactive session.
Orji while submitting the report informed that the sum of N16.25 trillion was lost to unabated crude oil theft, based on data collated and signed off by the operators and other stakeholders, pointing out that the agency has compiled the actual amount paid as a subsidy on a yearly basis.
According to him, the agency also uncovered over $8.3 billion in unremitted revenue by some privately owned oil companies and federal government-owned agencies that were not paid into the Federation Account, in deviance from the provisions in the existing financial regulations.
NEITI boss explained that the agency is working with various enforcement institutions, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practises and Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), in a bid to recover the funds in the government’s coffers.
“In the course of this job, we have incentivized a lot of recoveries for the government because, between what is paid and what is recovered, a lot of money in foreign exchange developed wings. Company A will say we paid $1 million, and you go to the account of the receiving agency and you find out that either half of that money was not received or more was received than what was paid because of poor record-keeping and carelessness.
“I have here, for instance, revenues we have earned from oil and gas since 1999. We also have here all the subsidy payments made. Since 2005, when it became a scandal, we have begun to collect the data. We began to ask questions about subsidies, and as of 2021, the country had paid $74.386 billion in subsidies.
“And we have a breakdown of what was paid each year. We have also got a conversion of what that can possibly translate to,” he said.
Speaking on the last report NEITI released on September 25, 2023, Orji expressed that the PAC is now a natural ally of his agency, and he will give it all the maximum cooperation needed.
Orji opined that the agency would also release the report on the Fiscal Allocation and Statutory Disbursement on November 9, 2023, and the beneficiaries from the fund.
“In that report alone, over $8.3 billion were unremitted funds on the part of some government agencies and companies. Our concern is that this is at a time when the government is going to borrow. So, we bring this information with incisive and empirical information and data with evidence and table it.
“We have also released the same report on the solid mineral sector, and all the information and data are provided. On November 9, we are releasing the last report for the year, which is on fiscal allocation and statutory disbursements.
“Every year, under the NEITI framework, we ask the question, How much money do the companies pay to the government? How much of that money does the government receive? Where is the money? What did we use the money for?
“And in the wisdom of the National Assembly in formulating the law, we said we shouldn’t just say no to the only money the government received or how much the companies paid, but we should ask if they pay what they should pay and if the government receives what they should receive”.
“The revenue that was made, who got what and how, were the sharing formulas followed, what of the 13% derivation fund, what of those statutory receivers like TETFUND and PTDF, like INEC, and all those that received extractive sector directly from the revenue account.
“Where do they trace the money for the account? Where did it go? Sometimes we take all of these for granted, but it’s not always like that. If you go through this report and follow up, you’ll be shocked that it’s not just sharing and allocation. Getting to the people, the government, and the right sources has also been a huge challenge, and that is what we’ve been battling with,” the NEITI helmsman told the Committee.