October 18, 2021

Re: States Lament Deductions, Demand Probe, Subsidy Rises To N8.2bn Daily

4 min read

By Adewole Kehinde

“Accountability is the glue that bonds commitment to results.” ― Will Craig

To achieve a notable amount of success at anything, you must hold yourself accountable for your actions, responsibilities, and goals. Although other people will help you improve, it’s up to you to hold yourself to a high standard.

It will be recalled that States on Monday condemned the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation over the manner it was administering the fuel subsidy regime.

Specifically, David Olofu, the Chairman of State Commissioners of Finance Forum stated this in an interview with Punch Newspaper.

What made me respond to the interview by the Chairman of State Commissioners of Finance Forum is the allegation that NNPC is non-transparent.

In the interview, Olofu urged the National Assembly to look into the activities of the NNPC, which he described as non-transparent.

When anybody wants to talk about transparency and accountability in the NNPC, no doubt, the present Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Mal Mele Kolo Kyari will be the only person mentioned.

Since his assumption of office as the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari has continued to reiterate his commitment to conducting the business and operations of the Corporation in a transparent manner, with a view to placing it on the path of profitability.

He had taken calculated steps to ensure more openness in the activities of the Corporation and the Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE) agenda has brought about greater transparency and accountability in NNPC’s management of Nigerian oil and gas revenues to date.

At an award ceremony in 2020, he renewed his commitment to transparency by saying, “I want to assure you that NNPC under my leadership will continue to be transparent in its operations, render complete and timely financial statements to all stakeholders and be repositioned for profitability for the benefit of over 200 million Nigerians”.

Kyari’s mission for launching the Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE) agenda is to ensure all embrace the sweeping call for accountability in the use of resources entrusted to the top management of NNPC, under his leadership.

So far, some of the successes recorded under the TAPE agenda include the publication of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 NNPC Audited Financial Statements (AFS).

The Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence Agenda brought a lot of commendations and encouragement for the NNPC leadership to do better in the coming years.

No wonder the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI), a multi-stakeholder coalition that promotes extractives transparency and accountability in over 50 countries commended the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, for honouring his commitment to promote and deepen the culture of transparency and accountability in the Corporation.

It is on record that every successive administration in the country had realised that subsidy is not good for the economy but that having the political will to implement deregulation policy was the problem.

It will be recalled that early in the year, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered that petrol subsidies should remain in place for the next five to six months to enable the government to carry out wide consultations before reaching a final decision on the issue.

President Buhari had said that suspension of subsidy removal is necessary so that the removal does not harm ordinary Nigerians.

It will be recalled that the Federal Government had mapped out plans, which is being coordinated by the Vice President and it has three legs – continuing consultation within the government at federal and state levels, labour and civil society; provision of alternative energy sources, especially gas and fast-tracking infrastructure for that across the country; and development of an effective relief and palliative options that must cushion the effect of subsidy removal if that choice becomes inevitable.

In a bid to manage the backlash, the Federal Government, since February, accepted a daily loss on the 60 million litres of the product, which the country consumes daily.

Speaking a few months later at the fifth edition of the special ministerial briefings coordinated by the presidential communications team, Kyari said while the actual cost of importation and handling charges of petrol amounts to N234 per litre, the government was selling the product at N162 per litre. That development, according to him, costs the country about N120b monthly.

Given the development, the Federal Government has spent over N900b in the last six months to retain the current pump price. This situation has further limited allocation into the Federation Account, and thereby cripples revenue accruing to the 36 states from the oil and gas sector, which accounts for the country’s major revenue source.

While the State and federal governments are currently under heavy debt and struggle to pay workers salary, the prevailing situation has already endangered the implementation of the 2021 budget.

The call by Olofu, the Finance Commissioners’ Forum Chairman that the National Assembly should live up to its responsibility by looking into the activities of the NNPC is baseless because the GMD of the NNPC, Mallam Kyari had made opening the books of the Corporation a cardinal aspect of its Management under its Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE) Initiative which he launched on assumption of office in July, 2019.

The statement by the forum chairman that the NNPC had all along been carrying on as a government on its own is illogical and unjustifiable.

Instead of the State Commissioners condemning the NNPC unnecessarily, they should rather work with their State Government to run a very conservative budget to take care of dwindling allocation from Abuja.

The State Governments should be concerned about how to manage its resources instead of depending on the Federal Government for allocations always.

Also, State Governors should show unparalleled capacity in their financial management to cater for any expected dwindling allocation from the Federal Government.

 

Adewole Kehinde is the Publisher of Swift Reporters He can be reached via 08166240846, 08123608992

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