By Michael Eboh
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, yesterday, cleared ExxonMobil from any sharp practices and indebtedness to the country.
In a statement in Abuja, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, disclosed that the indebtedness was on the part of the corporation, which did not deem necessary to pay its own share of the fees for the renewal of licenses for Oil Mining Leases, OML, 67, 68 and 70.
According to Kyari, the NNPC was supposed to pay the money on behalf of the Federal Government, but did not proceed with the payment as it would amount to the government paying itself the debts it owed itself.
Kyari, who was speaking while receiving members of Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, also cleared the air on alleged financial breaches in the corporation, stating that the NNPC had nothing to hide as it stood to gain a lot by being transparent in all areas of operation.
Kyari said, “ExxonMobil paid $600m which was their equity contribution of 40 per cent of the Joint venture agreement after which NNPC was to pay the remaining 60 per cent, but it became unnecessary as it represented the government.
“Ordinarily, NNPC would have contributed the balance of 60 per cent of the amount which literally meant government paying monies to itself. There was no need for that.”
On the alleged breach of government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy, Kyari insisted that the NNPC had no secret account, emphasizing that “there is no single account NNPC is operating that is unknown to the Federal Government. Any account(s) outside the TSA platform are partner accounts which we have obtained due approvals from the government.’’, he noted.
The NNPC chief executive, who observed that all monies belonging to the corporation were domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, added that the Corporation’s account managers remained the CBN and the Accountant General of the Federation.
Shedding more light on the alleged non-remittances of taxes and royalties by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, NNPC’s upstream arm, Kyari stated there were outstanding payments which arose as a result of the pillage that occurred before 2015.
He, however, assured the Panel that this administration has made concerted efforts to reconcile every payment due to the Federation on taxes and royalties.
“The only outstanding payment is the $600m and we have a pre-payment plan with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) such that by mid-2020, we will have no money left to be paid”, he noted.
“Every member of our Management shares the vision of Mr. President that Government’s institutions must be accountable to all Nigerians. We know that we will gain more by being more transparent. We have nothing to hide,” Kyari told the Panel.
Kyari further noted that the NNPC would provide the necessary support to the agencies concerned in that regard though it has no legal obligation to do so.
He said, “As an enabler organization, we will support them because we see our roles beyond our immediate responsibility.
“The Corporation is one of the most accountable public institutions in the country. This is the only company that publishes its operations and financial reports monthly. I’m not aware of any company that does that in the world.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the Presidential Panel, Mr. Okoi Obono- Obla said their visit was to seek synergy with the NNPC towards reforming the country and particularly to clear the air on issues relating to the operations of the Corporation.
He expressed the Panel’s satisfaction with NNPC’s frank and honest responses on the issues raised, describing the Corporation as a very important and transparent national institution with a GMD who has a track record of accountability and transparency in his public career.
“The GMD has a reputation of being an apostle of accountability and transparency. I feel very happy that somebody like him is coming out to clarify the key issues. Nigerians have been misled, it behoves on every organization to tell Nigerians the truth to engender transparency in the entire polity,” Obon-Obla declared.