NEITI backs subsidy fraud probe

NEITI backs subsidy fraud probe

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has endorsed the probe into the management of the oil subsidy revenue embarked upon by the House of Representatives, saying government should take steps to ensure that indicted officials are investigated and prosecuted.

NEITI, in a statement by its Director of Communications, Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, said the probe was consistent with the role of the legislature in the implementation of the global principles of extractive industries transparency initiative, which Nigeria voluntarily signed up to in 2003.

Notwithstanding the anger generated by the findings of the House committee that probed the management of the subsidy scheme between 2009 and 2011, that the nation has been defrauded of up to N1 trillion, the Federal Government of President Goodluck Jonathan appears to be reluctant to bring the alleged offenders to book.
May of the federal agencies involved with managment of crude oil and several oil marketing companies with close ties to the ruling party of the president were found to have been involved in the scam.

“As one of the first of over 40 resource -rich countries implementing the initiative around the world to support the policy with legislation through the NEITI Act of 2007, the growing interest of the National Assembly on how revenues from Nigeria’s extractive revenues are managed is encouraging to NEITI, and a positive as well as fundamental step towards deepening the EITI culture in our country,” Mr. Orji said.

“NEITI welcomes the commitment to openness, robust debate, constructive engagements, tolerance, desire for depth, valid information, facts and data built on public interests. The preliminary findings of the ad hoc committee was not surprising given the prevailing poor institutional linkages, infrastructural weakness, governance and process lapses as well as some kind of impunity, which appear to frustrate all efforts at enthroning openness, transparency and good business ethics in the oil and gas industry over the years.
“As Nigerians are aware, NEITI has conducted three different cycles of independent audits in the oil and gas industry (199-2004, 2005 and 2006/2008 respectively).

“Each of these cycles of industry audits issued comprehensive reports, with findings and recommendations, which clearly identified and highlighted the problems within the sector, proposed solutions and ways to implement them.
“But implementations of these remedial issues in the NEITI Audit Reports over these years have remained one of the major challenges in spite of the efforts being made by NEITI under the Inter Ministerial Task Team set up by the Federal Government for this purpose.”

The report of House Committee, he said, is not quite shocking for NEITI over the level of corruption and abuses in the oil and gas sector, as NEITI Reports had made similar shocking revelations in the areas of under payments and receipts, poor computation of financial flows, physical crude lifting’s and general concerns on management of the processes, with very little or no attention.

NEITI reiterated its call for speedy and coordinated efforts on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) with contents and provisions that would bring about openness, competition, competence, integrity, professionalism positive fiscal regimes.