Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry have berated the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for disparaging recent findings in the 2009-2011 oil and gas industry audit of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
The CSOs led by its representative on the National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) of NEITI, Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Nigeria, recently in Abuja, described the corporation’s disposition to the audit report as an embarrassing national development.
He group stated that the NNPC had over time turned itself into a fiefdom that consistently defied existing operational processes in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry and would also prefer not to be questioned as had been the case with NEITI audit processes in the sector.
National Coordinator of PWYP Nigeria, Faith Nwadishi, said at a recent briefing, which was witnessed by CSOs such as Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) amongst others that the NNPC has always found reasons to disparage audit reports published by NEITI.
Nwadishi however explained that findings of NEITI audit report on Nigeria’s oil and gas, from 1999 to 2011, which indicted the NNPC for non-transparent financial transactions have also been confirmed by several other independently commissioned investigation and probe reports in the sector.
She explained that such probe processes, which had overtime advanced disclosures in the NEITI audit processes, included the KPMG report on NNPC, the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee report on the management of fuel subsidy as well as the Nuhu Ribadu-led presidential taskforce on the petroleum sector.
“We in PWYP-Nigeria are particularly irked and consider it as unfortunate the fact that the NNPC has perennially rejected all the findings of the NEITI reports and several other independent reports produced by duly constituted panels and committees by the Nigerian authorities.
Specifically, our worry in the case of the NEITI is audit stem from the fact that NNPC is not a stranger to the process that produces the NEITI audit reports. Indeed, the NNPC is part and parcel of the board of NEITI and it is also to this extent that the NNPC is directly involved at all stages in the NEITI audit process-from the design of audit templates, population of the templates, verification and reconciliation of data captured and validation,” Nwadishi explained.
The NNPC had in the wake of the NEITI report, which alleged that it owed the federation huge unremitted revenues from its operations in the petroleum sector maintained that the audit report was “fundamentally inaccurate”.
It argued that it had yet completed its study of a draft copy of the report before NEITI publicly presented it and accused NEITI of giving it a bad name in the public domain.
But Nwadishi said: “It is part of the NEITI process that all agencies that took part in the audit sign off on drafted reports before they are released to the public. There is documented evidence that the NNPC signed off on the current NEITI audit report before it was published and that NNPC admitted that the drafted report was made available to it for review and response before it was released to the Nigerian public points to NEITI’s respect for due diligence.
She added: “It thus amounts to highest level of hypocrisy and major national embarrassment for NNPC to turn around and condemn a report which processes it was supposedly involved in and indeed, the decision of the NNPC to delay its response to the draft report until it was released to the public smacks off a calculated attempt to rubbish the credibility of the NEITI audit report while also portraying itself as one agency of government that is above the law and a Lord unto itself.”
By Chineme Okafor