By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating alleged fraudulent practice in the collection and management of non-oil revenue remittance by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, yesterday, walked out the management team of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the National Communications Commission, NCC, for failure of their Managing Director and Executive Chairmen, respectively, to appear in person to give revenue account of their establishments.
The committee has also said that with the present economic situation in the country, the only option to save the economy was to diversify in the non-oil sector.
Speaking at the public hearing attended by the Directors-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Shola Omale and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, Ladan Saleh, Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, Rep Chike Okafor, said with the present economic reality and the global fall in price of the oil, which produces about 85 percent of the nation’s revenue, there was the need to look at the direction of the non oil sector for revenue generation.
Chike frowned at the absence of the NDDC MD and Executive Chairman of the NCC, stressing that it was not always good for the heads of parastatals to stay away during serious national assignments that could help the country, instead, they preferred to send their subordinates.
He said the committee was interested in strengthening the accounts of the non-oil generating parastatals and organisation to know how much they generate annually, the position of the account balance, and where the revenue generated was domiciled.
He said: “Presently, we are in jeopardy of not being able to fund the 2015 budget largely because we realised too late to prepare for the worst possible outcome.
“When the 2015 budget was being prepared in 2014, it was based on a $65 a barrel of crude oil benchmark in anticipation that come 2015 prices of oil will still hover around $65 to $70. It also based production level at 2.27 million barrels per day in order to effectively execute the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.
“The grim reality today is that the above predictions did not stand as prices of crude oil experienced a season of free fall and production levels ranked below two million barrels per day which ultimately resulted in a significant shortfall in revenue generation which has led to a lack of capacity by government to implement budget.”
How to remedy the economy
Explaining that the probe into the revenues of the MDAs would be between 2011 to 2015, Chike said the only remedy to salvage the economy presently in chaotic position was diversification in the non oil sector.
He said: “We note that diversification is the only key to stem the tide of possible economic woes; we need to avoid plunging this nation into serious crisis hence, the need to take a dignified path to getting things in their proper perspective and generating a balance in our revenue drive.”