AFTER protracted stalemates and series of postponements, the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, finally, penultimate week Friday July 20, 2018, shared the sum of six hundred and sixty eight billion Naira (N668 billion) for the month of May, despite lingering disagreements between the states and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, over alleged unwholesome remittance of revenues.
The lower tiers of government were virtually coerced to accept payments made by the NNPC despite misgivings over remittances made by NNPC. The states had to take what they were given due to pressures over unpaid salaries and other commitments which had accumulated. In the past couple of months, government activities in many states had virtually been grounded while allocations being awaited from FAAC were not forthcoming.
It is worrisome that complaints over shortages in revenue remittances by Federal Government’s revenue-making bodies, especially the NNPC, have not been addressed. Traditionally, NNPC’s operations are, at best, shrouded in mystery to non-oil minds, a situation that has fuelled allegations ofcorruption over the years. President Muhammadu Buhari who assumed the portfolio of Minister of Petroleum Resources on the ground that he would sanitise the oil sector is still being awaited to effect necessary reforms.
The Chairman, Commissioners of Finance Forum, Mr. Mahmood Yinusa, after the third FAAC failure, said: “It is no longer a joking matter. It has gone to the highest level. Mr. President is highly interested in this and he is taking his time to ensure the right thing is done”.
The irony here is that the NNPC is under the President who is the Minister of Petroleum Resources. The problem is simply being referred back to the office from which it emanated. When will the President come out with a once and for all solution?
In a system that works, it is the National Assembly that should be asked to look into the confusion of NNPC remittance of revenues. The constitution empowers the Federal Legislature to appropriate Federal funds and enquire into how they are spent. The National Assembly should be approached to call the NNPC to explain the confusion in the revenue remittances, but obviously, FAAC stakeholders feel more inclined to pass the buck back to the President.
Besides, this unwholesome dependency on oil rents by all tiers of government has gone on for too long. As long as oil continues as our mainstay, no regime will ever like to implement transparency in the oil sector. While we eagerly await the day when the system is restructured for stronger fiscal federalism, we call on the NNPC to be more accountable on Federal revenue remittance and win the confidence of all FAAC stakeholders for smoother running of governance.