The National Economic Council’s ad-hoc committee on the management of the Excess Crude Account proceeds and accruals into the Federation Account rose from its meeting on Thursday 13 August 2015 announcing the
appointment of two foreign audit firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG, to commence a fresh forensic audit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation amongst several other revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government.
[Photo: Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole]
The engagement of the two foreign firms would have been hailed as a step in the right direction if not that it confirmed that Nigeria as a country takes great pleasure in going round in circles of wasteful sterile academic adventures. Why do we keep running in a circle all the time? KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCooper, are they the only auditing firms in the whole world that we keep going back to them again and again despite the plethora of controversies on their activities in this country?
Are there no credible, competent and reputable Nigerian audit firms that can be engaged to carry out forensic audits of our revenue generating agencies? If there is no individual Nigerian firm that can handle that scope of work, why can’t the government encourage two, three or four of the outstanding ones to loop together for the purpose of an exercise like this?
These two audit firms- KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCooper, Oshiomole and his gang are re-engaging have been serially enmeshed in controversial audit exercises in this country since I was in primary school. They always have reasons to defend their “interesting” jobs especially as concerns the activities of the nation’s apex oil concern- the NNPC either that their hands were tied or that both their hands and their legs were tied together. Haba! When shall we learn as a country?
This same Oshiomole and his cronies were at the forefront of fierce criticisms against the last audit exercise in the NNPC carried out by these two foreign firms at different times in our recent past. Now he has gone back to them to help reconcile records of our revenues (earnings and expenditure) in the same NNPC. Does it make sense? If they as agreed did not-too-thorough jobs and gave us hard- to- believe report under the past administration, what makes Oshiomole and his group think the conduct of the two firms is going to be different this time around? Or, whatever they came out with will be just be accepted because this time the exercise is being commissioned by those who now rules but hitherto were at the other side of governance when the previous ones were done?
Two firms that admitted they cannot stand by reports they endorsed and released, is there no credibility issues around such organisations? We need to address some of these things so that we don’t end up wasting our scarce resources only to be told the things we already know and have facts and figures on.
Hear Oshiomole: “the previous audit by PwC was limited to the NNPC alone, which the firm also complained to the NEC committee that it was restricted and constrained by non-compliance by few government agencies, including the CBN.”
When asked if the development meant that the government would jettison the PwC report of the audit carried out on the NNPC under the last administration, Oshiomhole said “The committee expected a more thorough job because the PwC had admitted that the audit it carried out on the NNPC, under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, was done under a political environment that was not favourable. Haba!
The governor said there was room for the audit firms to do more this time because the current President had demonstrated enormous political will to ensure that the federal agencies are run on the basis of international best practices.
The summary of the forensic audit report which the Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Samuel Ukura, presented to the public recently indicated that the allegation of unremitted $49.8bn, $10.8bn or $20bn was false. The report was emphatic that the total amount that accrued from crude oil lifting was $67bn out of which a total of $50.81bn was remitted into the Federation Account. The balance, the report stated, was used for petrol and kerosene subsidies and NNPC operations expenses. This position as reflected in the forensic audit report is consistent with the position that NNPC has always canvassed regarding the alleged “missing oil revenue”.
So what does Oshiomole and his group expect the KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCooper to present as their findings this time? Does anybody expect these two firms to come out with something drastically different? The best we will get from them would be mere modification of what they earlier said because it is impossible for them to say their initial audit reports were wrong. You see the foolishness in this exercise as concerns the NNPC?
It would be recalled that NEC had after its meeting of June 29 constituted a four-man panel to unravel N3.8 trillion unremitted funds to the Federation Account by the NNPC between 2012 and May 2015 as well as $2.1 billion said to have been deducted from the Excess Crude Account without approval. Members of the Committee are Governors Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), while Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos) was later co-opted.
Oshiomole reportedly said the two firms were appointed to ensure a thorough and professional job is done, and that his team has so far received briefings from several agencies, including the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Central Bank of Nigeria, Department of Petroleum Resources, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria Customs Service, the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
According to him, “This is about making Nigeria work for the benefit of other Nigerians and we have to bear in mind that governments are not run on the basis of collection of crude oil but government regardless of colour or political affiliation is run on tax and so if you have tax generating agencies that are not remitting taxes, government cannot run like that.”
When asked if there would be sanctions for those who might be indicted by the audit firms, the governor said the exercise was not for fun whatever that means. But I’m putting it to the Edo state governor and his gang the exercise is nothing but fun especially as concerns the NNPC and the CBN. Mark my words!!
(IFEANYI IZEZE lives in Abuja: firstname.lastname@example.org; 234-8033043009)