The highly anticipated report of forensic auditors contracted by the Federal Government to go through the books of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, was finally submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.
An accounting firm, PriceWaterHouse, was in March, 2014 hired to carry out a forensic audit of the NNPC, whose operation is mostly shrouded in secret, following an allegation by the former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Malam Lamido Sanusi that $20bn was not remitted to the Federation Account by the NNPC.
However, following the heated debate that greeted Sanusi, who is now the Emir of Kano’s revelation, a committee involving officials from the CBN, NNPC, Budget Office and Ministry of Finance was set up to reconcile the account.
While the committee said $10bn was yet to be ‘reconciled’, Sanusi insisted that the amount was $12bn. He later again changed the figure to $20bn.
The Senate also mandated its Committee on Finance, led by Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, to investigate the allegation. The committee submitted its report with the conclusion that no money was ‘missing’ and made some other recommendations.
Presenting the report to President Jonathan on behalf of the firm on Monday, the Nigeria Country Senior Partner of PriceWaterHouse, Uyi Akpata, said: “It is a privilege for us to have carried out this exercise on behalf of the government and I hope that you will find this report useful”.
He did not give any insight into the forensic report.
In accepting the report, however, Jonathan noted that the media and indeed Nigerians would be interested in the findings.
To this end, he directed the Auditor-General of the Federation to study the report and make the key highlights public within the week.
He said, “There has been so much of controversy over this NNPC and leakages or no leakages. I remember the Senate has also looked into it; it is also good that you professionals have also looked into it.
“What appears in the papers and the speculation is also very high, the figures that I cannot even imagine the country will make are being bandied in the newspapers.
“So, I am quite pleased that you have undertaken the forensic audit. Though it is voluminous, I will give it to the professionals.
“In government work, there are people that have the statutory responsibilities to handle such assignment, which is the Auditor-General of the Federation.
“So the Auditor-General will look at it and within the week, let us have key highlights because the media will want to know the key findings vis-a-vis the Senate’s findings and figures being bandied around in the newspapers. Nigerians are interested”.
The president admitted that the nation’s petroleum sector needed to be reformed.
He, however, expressed the hope that most of the loop holes being noticed in the sector would be plugged by the time the Petroleum Industry Bill was passed into law.
While promising to handle the report decisively, Jonathan expressed the belief that the forensic report would help the nation move forward.
The President said, “Nigerians don’t need to be scared, this is something that Nigerians are interested in. They (the audit firm) wanted to submit an interim report, but I said no, they must conclude this matter, because it is a forensic audit and there is no room for interim report so they must go back and conclude it and luckily they have concluded it.
“I hope we will not call them back, but where need be, we will call them back if there are issues that are not so clear, but we are happy with what we have done so far.
“I assure you that this is a precious document that the Accountant-General will keep and I will have my own copy, because even if I leave office, maybe when I write my memoir, I will use some part of it.
“But the kind of figure people bandy in the papers look so ridiculous”.