17 January 2014, Abuja – The Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, has called on the National Assembly to engage the services of an audit firm to conduct what it described as a ‘comprehensive independent forensic audit into the alleged unremitted $49.8 billion crude oil revenue to the Federation Account.
It also condemned last Sunday disruption of a rally by the Save Rivers Movement (SRM) and the alleged excessive use of force by the police that led to the hospitalisation of Senator Magnus Abe after he was shot with rubber bullets.
However, the NGF, arising from a meeting presided over by its Chairman and Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, on Wednesday night in Abuja, said in a communiqué that the National Assembly should urgently do a thorough probe of the allegation by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had failed to remit $49.8 billion of oil money to the Federation Account.
The probe, it added, should be conducted notwithstanding the NNPC’s explanation that it had duly accounted for how the money was spent.
Amaechi, who read the communiqué of the meeting, said: “On the issue of the missing $49.8 billion (N8.5 trillion) or equivalent of two years of the national budget, there is no evidence that this amount was paid into the Federation Account or duly appropriated.
“We accordingly call on the National Assembly to institute a comprehensive independent forensic audit by an international reputable firm. We fear that the recent decline of state revenues is not unconnected with the financial diversion.”
The governors accused the federal government of not carrying out enough consultations before the 2014 budget was presented to the National Assembly.
“In clear breach of the provision of Section 11, Part II of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 which requires the federal government to hold consultations with states before the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) is laid before the National Assembly, consultation with states on the MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper (2014 to 2016) did not hold,” the communiqué said.
The governors also lamented that the National Economic Council (NEC) was no longer holding as and when due.
“The National Economic Council (NEC) meeting where issues of this nature would have been discussed last held four months ago. The financial irregularities relating to public accounting, the lack of compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, and the recent security breaches are not unconnected with the refusal of the federal government to convene meetings of statutory institutions created in the constitution such as the National Economic Council (NEC), the Council of State, the Nigeria Police Council and meetings of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC). We urge a return to the path of constitutionalism,” the governors said.
On the violence in some states of the federation, the governors said they were dismayed by the violent attacks that recently took place in some parts of Borno State and in Kano State, during which the father of the Governor, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso was attacked.
On the crisis in Rivers State, including the incident that led to the shooting of Abe, the communiqué said: “We also condemn the flagrant violation of the rights of citizens to freely assemble in Rivers State by the Nigerian police and the excessive use of force against unarmed citizens in the exercise of their fundamental rights and the shooting of Senator Magnus Abe.
The meeting was attended by governors of Rivers, Edo, Imo, Adamawa and Ekiti States, while the deputy governors of Nasarawa, Kwara, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa and Lagos States represented their principals.