The committee set up by the National Economic Council (NEC) to investigate the discrepancies between the revenue generated from crude sales and the monies remitted to the Federation Account under the Goodluck Jonathan administration has ordered a forensic audit of all government revenue generating agencies.
Briefing journalists on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, the Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, who spoke on behalf of the committee, said KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) had been appointed to undertake the audit.
He said that the committee could not rely on the forensic audit report submitted by PwC on NNPC late last year because it was limited in scope, and decided to extend the audit to all revenue generating agencies of the federal government.
Oshiomhole said PwC’s report solely covered the allegation made by the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that the revenue from crude oil sales between January 2012 and July 2013 (over a 17-month period) was not remitted to the Federation Account.
Oshiomhole disclosed that PwC admitted to the committee that it could not do a thorough job because two critical agencies for the probe – CBN and NNPC’s exploration and production subsidiary, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) – did not make submissions during its audit, a fact highlighted in the PwC report when it was made public early this year.
Before taking the decision to appoint the audit firms, Oshiomhole said the committee received briefings from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and other agencies.
“We have decided to appoint two audit firms – KPMG and PwC – to carry out a forensic audit of all these agencies. The federal government will decide what to do with the findings.
“Some of us are not accountants and two of my colleagues who are accountants were unable to understand the way these agencies operated their accounts.
“We don’t know how long it will take, but they must do it within a time frame and must be very thorough and exercise best professional judgment.
“PwC said some organisations did not cooperate with it and so could not do a thorough audit. That was due to the political environment prevailing then.
“But now the present administration is conducive. Buhari is willing to provide the enabling environment.
“KPMG said it refused to participate because the environment was not conducive,” he said.
Oshiomhole explained that all the affected agencies were expected to pay all revenues generated by them into the Federation Account in line with the constitution but that many of them have not been compliant.
Asked if the committee has the powers to appoint audit firms, he said: “NEC is created by the constitution. NEC set us up. Whatever we do, is derived from the express mandate of the council.”
Some of the affected agencies are the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), among many others.
Oshiomhole, who appeared to be calm and temperate while briefing journalists, said the probe was not a witch-hunt but was being undertaken to ensure that a solid foundation is laid for the growth of the country.
He said all over the world, countries are run on taxes and that Nigeria was just fortunate to have oil, adding that the federal government must also ensure that taxes are collected properly just like it is done in other jurisdictions.
He said: ”It is more about tomorrow, not about yesterday. Nigeria cannot continue to be run like before. We want to lay the foundation for the country to be built on.
“We will do what all civilised countries do, that is, government agencies are run in a constitutional manner. The president’s intention is very clear.
“This is how to give the ownership of the country to the people. When Nigeria is properly run by taxpayers’ money, the country will be more accountable to its people.”
NEC, chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, had at its 58th meeting, set up a four-member committee to scrutinise the accounts of NNPC and the Excess Crude Account (ECA) managed by the last administration.
The probe was meant to unravel the N3.8 trillion not remitted to the Federation Account by NNPC between 2012 and May 2015, as well as $2.1bn said to have been withdrawn from the ECA without NEC’s approval.
Zamfara State Governor Abdulazeez Yari, Oshiomhole, Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai, and Akwa Ibom Governor Udom Emmanuel were initially appointed members of the committee.
However, at its last meeting, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was coopted into the committee. -Thisday