SERAP Ultimatum To NNPC Ltd. Is Baseless, Says Youth Alliance

The Integrity Youth Alliance has said that SERAP’s threat to NNPC Limited by giving the company a 7-day ultimatum to account for missing $2.04 billion, or N164 billion, in oil revenues is baseless.

Reacting to the threat by SERAP on Monday, the Board Chairman of Integrity Youth Alliance, Comrade Adewole Kehinde, said even though SERAP has never won a case in court despite its threat to several government institutions, they are bound to fail again with their latest threat to NNPC Limited.

According to SERAP’s statement, citing the 2020 audited report by the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to remit over USD$2 billion and N164 billion in oil revenues to the federation account.

The group, however, said that during the visit of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), the Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Olufemi Soneye, said the claims by some NGOs, such as SERAP, were baseless because NEITI had dismissed many of the allegations in the said 2021 report, following a series of engagements with NNPC Ltd.

NNPC Ltd states that at the outset of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, it was made to sell Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) imported into the country at one-third of its value, a development that gave rise to an average of N400bn monthly subsidy bill, which subsequently put a strain on its revenues and finances.

NNPC Ltd. further states that “the subsidy bill accumulated to N3.736 trillion as of May 31st, 2023.”

Concerning gas-to-power debts, the non-payment of NNPC’s share of upstream joint venture gas supplied to the government-owned plants led to the accumulation of indebtedness of N174.07 billion by the Federation.

“Similarly, the receivables due from the federation to NNPC Exploration & Production Limited (NEPL) as of May 31, 2023, amounted to $712 million (equivalent to N309.07 billion at N434.08/US$1) for revenues not remitted to NEPL but paid into the Federation account.

The company noted that while the Federation owed NNPC the sum of N 4.207 trillion as net indebtedness, the company was only indebted to the Federation in the sum of N2.852 trillion, made up mainly of outstanding Good and Valuable Consideration (GVC) in respect of government upstream divestments, royalties, and Petroleum Profit Taxes (PPT).

“We would also like to use this opportunity to clarify that over the years, our relationship with NEITI has been very cordial, as seen in August 2020 when we became an EITI supporting company in 2020, joining a group of over 65 extractive companies, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), commodity traders, financial institutions, and industry partners committed to observing the EITI supporting company expectations.”

“Indeed, aside from being a signatory to several of EITI’s global ethics and standards, NNPC Ltd., on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in Washington, DC, signed up to the United Nations Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption in September 2023, thereby becoming the first state-owned oil company to join the global initiative.”

“NNPC Ltd’s book remains open to all our stakeholders as we remain committed to delivering value to Nigerians with integrity and as espoused in our principles of Transparency, Accountability, and Performance Excellence (TAPE), the bulwark of the Mele Kyari leadership of the company,” Soneye said.

There is no denying that the NNPC is the company that is being scrutinized the most by watchers of events in Nigeria’s oil sector. Since the Justice Ayo Irikefe Panel of Inquiry was established forty years ago in 1979 to investigate the alleged missing N2.8 billion in oil money, the NNPC Ltd has been the subject of numerous audits and investigations, including the ones conducted by the Senate and PwC previously mentioned, and has never been found to have committed a crime.

The statement read, “A degree of transparency in the NNPC’s operations not seen since the company’s founding more than 45 years ago would have been apparent to SERAP had they closely monitored events over the last five years under Kyari’s leadership.

“Kyari unveiled his “roadmap to excellence,” which was centred around the TAPE agenda, as one of his first official acts. Transparency, accountability, and excellence in performance are the core values of TAPE. This has continued to be the cornerstone of his NNPC leadership style and has supported the accomplishments he has achieved over the past five years.

“The adoption of international best practices by the NNPC has resulted in a revolution in administrative and technical procedures, which is one of the main achievements of the TAPE programme. It was therefore not shocking when, in September 2021, Kyari gave Nigerians an audited report on the NNPC’s 2020 finances for the first time in 44 years. The cherry on top was that the corporation reported a N287 billion profit, ending decades of deficits for the company.

“In addition to managing the business according to sound, widely accepted management concepts, Kyari has elevated the NNPC to the status of one of the top oil firms in the world. Furthermore, he has addressed major issues facing the Nigerian economy by using his role as the company’s leader. Among these is the complex issue of crude oil theft, which has posed problems for Nigeria’s governments ever since the nation’s restoration to representative democracy in 1999. It is known that the “Crude Theft Monitoring Application,” created by the NNPC under Kyari’s direction, includes choices for reporting occurrences and receiving fast follow-up and responses, as well as another for validating crude sales paperwork.

“Before the launch of the application, Kyari had taken leading officials of the Nigerian government in the Muhammadu Buhari administration, including the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; the then Chief of Defence Staff of the Nigerian military, Gen. Lucky Irabor; and the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, Mr. Gbenga Komolafe, to the Niger Delta creeks to tackle the menace of oil theft. His effort paid off as a four-kilometre illegal oil connection line from the Forcados Terminal into the sea, where for nine years criminals had been syphoning Nigeria’s oil, was discovered.

“The accomplishment of this goal proved crucial because, according to NNPC Q4 figures, the nation’s oil production level increased to 1.6 million barrels from the previous figure of 1.2 million. This helped Nigeria reclaim its title as Africa’s largest producer, surpassing Angola (1.088 mb/d) and Algeria (1.021 mb/d).

“Along with these achievements, NNPC Ltd. also managed to settle a long-standing disagreement with its business associates, particularly foreign oil firms. The Kyari-led NNPC signed various production-sharing contracts and other agreements, including Dispute Settlement Agreements and Escrow Agreements, that would produce approximately 10 billion barrels of crude and over $500 billion in revenue, as part of its determination to increase the nation’s production of crude and unlock investments in the deepwater space.

“Additionally, by implementing the alternative funding model in place of the previous cash call payment system, the NNPC has been able to pay Nigeria’s joint cash call arrears to the IOCs to the tune of $5 billion. In addition, the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline project, which spans 5,600 kilometres and passes through these nations as well as seven more—Togo, Benin, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania, and Senegal—has resulted in Memoranda of Association being signed by the NNPC Ltd. with nations such as Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. When the project is finished, it will provide Morocco and Europe with around 3 billion standard cubic feet of gas per day (3 bscf/d) from Nigeria.

“Also in 2022, NNPC Ltd. secured a $1.4 billion external project finance agreement for hydrocarbon projects in the Niger Delta.

“Undoubtedly, Kyari’s implementation of the TAPE strategy at the NNPC provided the NNPC with a clear roadmap that enabled them to achieve these successes. No organisation, no matter how eager it is for a partnership, would logically want to conduct business with an opaque organisation of the type Sanusi describes. The arrival of the Kyari-led management has laid that old NNPC to rest. It has been replaced by a company that is committed to setting the benchmark for high-quality service delivery globally and outperforming both domestic and foreign rivals.

“Kyari recently clarified that NNPC Ltd. was not hoarding any public money and that the amount that NEITI recorded as non-remittance was really what the company owed the Federal Government in exchange for taking on the fuel subsidy burden.

“It was discovered that the balance of unremitted oil revenue was the amount spent by NNPC Ltd. on its operations in accordance with the then-extant law, the PIA Act.

“Even the reputable auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers cleared the NNPC of misappropriation of funds. (https://www.thecable.ng/pwc-audit-proof-no-money-missing-nnpc)

“It’s unclear to us why SERAP keeps making these claims that, upon careful examination and inquiry by internationally reputable organisations, have been demonstrated to be unfounded. The accusations contradict the positive changes that the company has just undergone, the statement concluded.