15 December 2013, As the furore over the claim by the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has not remitted $49.8 billion to the Federation Account continues, a crucial meeting has been called for tomorrow to sort out the imbroglio.
In the main, key officials of the NNPC, CBN and Ministries of Petroleum Resources and Finance would try to douse the tension generated by the controversy.
It was learnt that the coincidence of the Sanusi letter with the 18-page letter from former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan has been interpreted as a political instrument hatched by the CBN Governor to blackmail the administration as not keen on combating corruption, one of the key issues raised by Obasanjo in his missive.
But the Group Executive Director Exploration and Production of the NNPC, Eng. Abiye Membere, said, yesterday, that there was nowhere the Nigerian economy would have survived at any time if such amount of money was withheld from the system.
Membere, who was flanked by the Director of Department of Petroleum Resources, Mr. George Osahon, and an official of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Kelvin Allaso, told journalists in Abuja that it was imperative for the key agencies to meet and find out if indeed any money was missing.
The director said that at the meeting, all revenue generating and collecting agencies related to oil production would examine their books to determine the veracity or otherwise of the CBN claim.
“But all we are saying is that $49.8 billion is not missing,” Membere insisted, adding that if the nation ever misses such amount, it would not be able to operate.
“NNPC did not collect and will not collect money from oil proceeds and not remit same to the Federation Account as stipulated by the law of the land.
“The NNPC is ready to defend itself over this allegation, which is not true and can never be justified considering what the oil industry generates for the national economy monthly.
Claiming that the NNPC had no hand in the said missing money, Membere made it clear that the corporation had remitted all that it ever collected as stipulated by law to the CBN and had nothing to hide.
Asked to comment data used by the CBN Governor to arrive at the purported missing sum, the E &P boss noted that the figure was best known to the apex bank governor.
When the same question was put to the DPR director, he said that he was not armed with the figure, which the CBN boss used in computing and arriving at the amount said to be missing.
Controversy over the missing huge amount broke out last week, raising fears that the money had been stolen.
But the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, GMD, Eng. Andrew Yakubu, on Friday dismissed the claim by the CBN Governor as a fluke and accused Sanusi of playing politics with the issue and heating up the polity.
“I want to say that the allegation by the CBN governor is unfounded, baseless and has become a political instrument in the current politically-charged environment,” the GMD alleged.