There are indications that the alleged diversion of N378 billion dividend proceeds from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) is causing disquiet in the polity.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had yesterday accused a cabal in the Presidency of allegedly siphoning the sum through sleazy oil subsidy deals, even as it challenged President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to clear the air on the matter.
The party said Nigerians were startled by revelations of how the funds from the NLNG, an agency under President Buhari’s direct supervision as the minister of petroleum, was secretly spent without the appropriation of the National Assembly.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, had claimed before a Senator Ahmad Lawan’s Adhoc Committee, that the corporation had used the NLNG dividends to defray the cost of under-recovery in the importation of fuel.
National publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a press statement, said: “Available intelligence shows that the Presidency cabal cornered the money under the guise of subsidy payments but allegedly diverted a huge part of it to members of the cabal and some key APC leaders, which they used to finance their wasteful lifestyle, including acquiring posh property within and outside the country.
“If there was no ulterior agenda; if the money was actually meant for payment of subsidy, why was it drawn and purportedly spent without recourse to the constitutionally required approval of the National Assembly and other due process procedures under our laws?”
The PDP added that such “humongous corruption and stealing of trillions of naira in the oil and gas sector, which is under President Buhari’s purview, as minister of petroleum, is directly responsible for the biting economic recession and its attendant high cost of living, acute hunger and starvation, poor living standard, dilapidated infrastructure, escalated violence and high mortality rate in the country in the last three and half years.”
The PDP further challenged President Buhari, as Mr. Integrity, to speak out on the alleged corruption in his Presidency, just as it urged the National Assembly to immediately open an inquest into the matter to unravel who actually authorised the withdrawal, and the beneficiaries, with a view to exposing them and recovering the money in national interest.
…Senate To Probe Diversion Of NLNG Fund
Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki has said that when the Senate resumes plenary, it will query the NNPC GMD, Maikanti Baru, on how and why the corporation diverted the NLNG dividends to defray the cost of under-recovery in the importation of fuel.
Saraki, while reacting to questions from newsmen at the Ilorin Airport, admitted that he had received series of telephone calls on the issue by many concerned Nigerians and others who wanted to know the position of the Senate on the issues raised by the NNPC boss before the Ahmad Lawan Adhoc Committee.
He stated that the disclosure by the NNPC boss, in response to enquiries by the Senate adhoc committee probing the issue of illegal payment of subsidy on fuel, called for further investigation by the Senate and also showed that, as alleged in a motion moved earlier by Senate Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, a lot of illegal and unapproved spendings are going on in the petroleum corporation.
“Let me assure Nigerians that there will be no cover-up. We are confident that the adhoc committee will do a thorough job. All the issues will be unearthed. That is why when the Senate sets up investigative committees on issues, we want Nigerians to have confidence in us, that we do not act because we want to embark on a wild goose chase; there must be some serious issues to be looked into. The revelations by the NNPC GMD have justified the need for this investigation and they have shown that we are acting in good faith.
“When in my ruling on the motion raised by Senator Olujimi, I insisted that we want a transparent, honest and non-partisan investigation on the fuel subsidy issue, it was clear to me and my colleagues that there are certain irregularities being perpetrated and we should let Nigerians know the truth. That is why we set up the committee in the first place, and to demonstrate the seriousness we attach to the issue, we decided that the adhoc committee should be led by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan.
“We are however shocked that the NNPC GMD was claiming that the illegal diversion of dividends from the NLNG, which should be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation for the purpose of funding the fuel subsidy, was done ‘in compliance with the National Assembly directive that NNPC as the supplier of last resort should, and has, maintained robust petrol supply’.
“So, if the National Assembly called on NNPC to carry out its legitimate duty of ensuring adequate fuel supply to Nigerians, the GMD logically thinks the corporation, by that call, has the licence to perpetrate illegality, spend money without approval and violate appropriation laws. It is my belief that if the National Assembly said the corporation should perform its duty effectively as a supplier of fuel to Nigerians without exposing people to needless suffering, that ought to be done within the ambit of the law,” he stated.
According to Saraki, the GMD will have to produce the approval given by the National Assembly and other necessary approving bodies authorising the NNPC to divert the dividend from the NLNG investment, which ought to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund belonging to the three tiers of government, for the payment of fuel subsidy.
Efforts to reach the management of NNPC for response to the allegations proved abortive as phone calls made to the spokesman of the Corporation, Mr Udu Ugahmadu were not answered. He also did not respond to SMS on the issue sent to his phone number as well as his Whatsapp contact at the time of filing in this report.
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