The president of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, yesterday gave the assurance that the Senate would debate the 2013 audit report of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in view of the mind-boggling revelations of mismanagement contained in it.
Saraki, according to a statement in Abuja by his chief press secretary, Sanni Onogu, disclosed this when the executive secretary of NEITI, Waziri Adio led the management of the transparency body to present a copy of its 2013 audit report to the Senate president.
He commended the NEITI boss for his decision to formally present the report to the Senate rather than to just send the report to the relevant committees.
Saraki said: “I agree with you entirely that this type of opportunity also enables us to strengthen the institutions, such as yours, that have the responsibility of improving the governance and transparency administration of the management of our resources.
“In preparation for this courtesy call, I studied the report early this morning, and honestly, I was just dumbfounded about the figures that we are talking about.
“This is just one year’s report (2013); it is not cumulative. In one year’s audit report, you are talking about figures of over $3.8billion. At that time, I am sure, the rate was close to N150 per dollar. So you are talking about N650billion. Then you are talking about another N358billion which brings it close to about N1trillion.
“Then you are talking about assets that were undervalued and transferred to NPDC but still no payment was made. You are talking about NAPIMS paying cash calls for an asset that doesn’t belong anymore to NNPC and you truly wonder that this is going on right under our nose here in this country.”
The Senate president added that such revelations mark the country out as an unserious one.
He said: “Honestly, I just concluded that, as a country, I don’t think we are serious. We are just paying lip service to this issue of fighting corruption because economic sabotage is the real terminology.
“This is what, I believe, agencies that are truly fighting corruption should have taken up. Meanwhile, you see them sometimes chasing a local government chairman for N10million or chasing even the state governments for less amounts.
“These are just astronomical figures and nobody is being asked where the authority came from. Even if you say it was a minister, do we have where managements of those organisations have been able to say this is not what should be done?
“There are people who are responsible in management to advise on what should be done. And these people, I am sure, are just walking the streets up and down without anybody asking them any question. It is incredible.
“Honestly, we must begin to do something about this because, unless we do that, we are just wasting our time. We are just chasing areas that, maybe, catch news headlines but they don’t have any effect.”
Saraki promised the visiting NEITI delegation that the Senate will discuss the audit report at a plenary session on live television, adding that he had already directed his office staff to circulate the report to all senators as a first step.
“Let us discuss it. It is serious! Look at the figures they are talking about! And like you rightly said, you will just publish it and it will go and nobody will say anything about it? What is the ICPC doing? What is the EFCC doing? This is what is killing this country.
“But I can assure you that, under this 8th Senate, these kinds of reports are not going to die without anybody doing something about them. We will shout until something is done,” he asserted.
The Senate president further acknowledged the need to strengthen agencies like NEITI because of the type of responsibility they are saddled with just as he urged the agency to fast-rack the preparation of the 2014 and 2015 reports so as to make them public in good time.
Earlier, NEITI executive secretary, Waziri Adio, had lamented the level of mismanagement of resources in the oil and gas industry over the years and said that the country had no definite account of the oil produced over the period.
According to him, the NEITI 2013 industry audit report showed that revenue in the oil and gas industry were not fully remitted to the Federation Account and that the danger posed to the economy due to the misappropriation of the funds were enormous.