05 November 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – THE Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, says the report submitted by the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, headed by the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu, followed the trend of previous audits of the oil and gas sector in the country.
Mr Ledum Mitee, chairman of National Stakeholders Working Group of the NEITI board, said in a statement, “as an agency statutorily set up to develop a framework for transparency and accountability in the management of revenues from Nigeria’s extractive industries, especially oil and gas, NEITI has legitimate interest in not only the Report, but the processes, its findings and the outcome.”
NEITI said that it has conducted “three different cycles of industry audits spanning the period 1999-2004, 2005 and 2006-2008 respectively. The Report of another round of comprehensive audit of the oil and gas sector for 2009- 2011 which began early in the year is expected to be concluded by December 2012.
“Each of the past NEITI audit Reports clearly identified financial, physical and process lapses, and revealed a loss of some 2.6 billion USD due to underpayments, under-assessments, poor judgment in the computations of volume of crude sales and other leakages only.
“From the past audits, NEITI reports equally disclosed that a whooping total sum of $9.8 billion (equivalent to ₦1.373 trillion at the current exchange rate) is outstanding recoverable fund due to the Federation Account from the companies. NEITI also openly expressed concern that there was no sufficient effort to recover the funds from the companies, by the affected relevant government agencies, even when the companies have not shown any resistance to pay.
“NEITI industry audits have also consistently identified and highlighted the problems within the sector, proposed solutions and ways to implement them, but implementation of these recommendations and remediation issues has remained a major challenge in spite of the efforts of NEITI under the Inter- Ministerial Task Team set up by the Federal Government for these purposes.
“NEITI notes that the reported findings of the Ribadu Committee are not surprisingly, rather it followed the trend of NEITI audits, given the prevailing poor institutional linkages, systematic leakages, poor legal framework, governance and process lapses which appear to characterize business ethics in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria over the years. The Ribadu Report has re-opened a compelling and urgent case for necessary follow- through actions on remedial issues already identified and recommended by the extant NEITI reports.
“While NEITI also considers the series of probes now on-going in the oil and gas sector as most welcome fundamental steps towards actualizing the global principles and objectives of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative which Nigeria voluntarily subscribed to as a member since 2003, it feels however that had the remedial issues identified by the NEITI audit reports been dealt with or had NEITI the necessary enabling enforcement powers, some of the issues necessitating and identified by these probes would have since been dealt with.
“NEITI certainly feels vindicated by the reported findings of the Ribadu Committee, it is our belief that one further thing the Ribadu Report has clearly achieved is to expose the need to further strengthen NEITI through necessary amendments to its enabling Act to give it the necessary enforcement powers as well as visible steps to implement the findings and recommendations of audit reports.
“While awaiting the full publication of the Ribadu Report and anticipated government action thereon, NEITI believes that the ultimate lesson to be derived from these is the need for coordinated efforts of all; the media, civil society, companies, government and the public for speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, with clear contents and provisions that will bring about accountability, openness, competition, competence and integrity as well as promote investment-friendly environment in our oil and gas industry.”