By Yomie Adeoye
FOLLOWING insinuations from different quarters that the state owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has been operating a covert account which is neither audited nor accessible to the government the Group Managing Director of the company Dr Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo has debunked these claims saying that the corporation’s accounts are open, current and is always made available to relevant government agencies.
The GMD made this statement while reacting to quetsions during his courtesy visit to the corporate headquarters of Vanguard media Ltd, publishers of Sweetcrude in Lagos.
Barkindo who took time to narrate factors that brought about the constant controversy over the corporation’s accounts noted that it is only the government that can rectify the problem and not the NNPC.
“On the issue of the remittances to the Federation Account Allocation Committee ,(FAAC), which as you rightly say has in the past generated some interest. I just want to put the records straight, sometime in2003 government directed NNPC to begin to buy crude for domestic refining at international prices.
This was the directive of the federal government to the NNPC. That the federal government that sells their crude to us for domestic refining and for our domestic consumption would no longer be at sub optimal prices but must be at international prices.
But that directive did not go far enough, by directing NNPC also to charge international prices for the products that it refines for domestic consumption.
It is two sides to one coin if you put it in pedestrian terms, you can not on the one side ask Vanguard or any of the print media houses to continue to buy their newsprint at international price and come up tomorrow with some bogus laws to say that you can not charge market price for your paper or your adverts, that is precisely what happened in 2003, and since then we began to see the mismatch in the value of the crude and the amount pf the payment that we are suppose to remit to federation account for the full value of the crude and the value of the refined products that comes out of the refineries at regulated prices. The differential is at the core of the problem between the FAAC and NNPC on a continuos basis.”
The GMD however stated that the corporation is not resting on its oars as it has made moves to resolve the issue by reaching out to relevant agencies of government especially the FAAC in order to amicably resolve the issue.
“Now we have discussed at great length with FAAC Chairman and Minister of state for Finance Remi Babalola as well as other members of FAAC and I think the consensus is that this structural deficiencies must be addressed by government and not NNPC. And I think work is in progress to address this issue.
On our account, our account surprisingly unknown to the FAAC probably because we have not been communicating very well which we are now trying to rectify with their help. Our accounts are very open, they are very current and they are submitted to all the agencies of government including the Auditor General of the federation and regarding our transformation into NNPC limited, the company will be registered and managed under the companies and allied matters Act and will be subjected to the same provisions as vanguard or any other corporate entity.
One of the major advantages of the petroleum Industry bill (PIB) is the level of transparency that had hitherto not been seen in this country, if you read the provisions on transparency and compared it to what we have today, you see that our account even under the current regime have often been passed to relevant government agencies and once the PIB is passed and the level of transparency elevated to one of the highest in the world, and it would regulate not just the NNPC
but the entire industry.”
Dr. Barkindo also noted that the amnesty program of the federal government has taken effect positively as the nation’s crude export as increased tremendously since the commencement of the program.
“Our inability to assess the crude pipeline that has been vandalized since May during the insurgency. I think we have been able to overcome. Our contractors have gone back to site and they are working day and night and we are also receiving very positive reports from them that in no distant future we will be able to get all our pipelines back which will enable us to supply crude.
That we have crude and there is no way you can get the refineries to operate is not encouraging and this is what has been happening since May”
We are embarking on a major transformation of the NNPC beginning with the a transition that we will be unveiling shortly. It is a transition phase that will elevate the corporation and begins to transform it from another center that it has been operating since its inception in 1977″Barkindo said.
This is in an effort to bring about a government organisation with a full fledged commercial entity, that will play its role and demonstrates well as the international global oil and gas industry.
Speaking on the prevailing fuel scarcity which is currently rocking the nation The GMD noted that the government alone can not get he required quantity of products for Nigerians and as such need the partnership of the private sector to ensure that shortage and scarcity is permanently dealt with.
“We have looked at the logistics of the insufficient supply and distribution of petroleum products, this is not a field where we can monopolize. We have to work with other marketers under the auspices of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) together in order to continue to project national demand for petroleum products and arrange among ourselves the ratio and demand percentages of the supply.
Now in a situation where the coordinator of this projection as well as the responses, in terms of the quality of products and the logistics to discharge this products continue to be significant challenges to all of us the forum provided us the golden opportunity to sit down with all the players and come to terms with the specific way forward.