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$49.8 Billion: Sanusi, Okonjo-Iweala Give NNPC Clean Slate

Controversy over the phantom unremitted $49.8 billion crude oil lifting by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was laid to rest on Wednesday as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala stated that the reconciliation exercise which began last Monday between officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Department of Petroleum Resources has established that the $49.8 billion allegedly unremitted has been accounted for.

She however noted that a disputed sum of $10.8 billion is still being reconciled.

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Speaking at a joint press conference in Abuja which also had in attendance the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Engr. Andrew Yakubu, the Director DPR, the Chairman of the FIRS, the Coordinating Minister of Economy said that the reconciliation exercise, which is still on-going, had, by Tuesday night established that $39 billion had been paid by the NNPC into the Federation Account.

“What we have done so far shows that for the $49.8billion, and that’s the first point we want to make, there are some perhaps misconceptions or misunderstandings that led to this number and we have been able to come to the conclusion that we can account for this amount,” Okonjo-Iweala stated.

The Finance Minister stated that this conclusion was reached after a closer and more extensive scrutiny of the books by all parties involved.

“I just want to say that this reconciliation is still an ongoing matter, but we thought at this point in time after working last night that we could share with you some of our thoughts and clarifications on this issue. And that is why we are here to resolve this and get to the bottom of this,’’ she said.

“So the bulk of the sum of $49billion has been accounted for and that is what the reconciliation exercise is about. So it is very clear that this is not missing’’.

In his presentation, Mallam Sanusi blamed the controversy on the leakage of the letter to Mr. President which, according to him, was not designed for public consumption.

“It is the first time I am speaking about this matter in the public, I think it is important to give a little context. First of all it is important to remember that the CBN never issued a public statement or a press statement in this matter. The CBN wrote a letter to the president which unfortunately found its way to the press and that letter was at best an invitation to begin investigation. It was not an end or a conclusion of an audit or investigation. Conclusions drawn before investigation were premature,’’ he said.

He said the CBN letter was written to address what it perceived as a gap between “what we had in our records as the value of crude shipped by NNPC and the amount repatriated as equity to the federation account.

“What we had in our records was $65 billion shipped by NNPC and about $15 billion returned as equity to the federation account,’’ he said.

The CBN Governor stated that the reconciliation meetings have provided a clearer picture of the transactions to the apex bank.

“We now know that out of the $65 billion that NNPC shipped, $24billion did not belong to NNPC, it was crude that was paid by oil companies as tax and royalties and shipment for them…,’’ he said.

He noted that the ongoing joint reconciliation exercise will help resolve and explain the outstanding issues.

Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke on her part stated that the robust reconciliation meetings over the last couple of days have revealed a very clear understanding and that most part of the said amount has been accounted for.

“There is a shortfall as mentioned but it has been known for quite some time. It is an open record in FAAC and has been discussed severally. It has been acknowledged by NNPC but the extent of the shortfall has also been disputed by NNPC for some time and so we have an ongoing reconciliation efforts on that particular shortfall’’, she said.



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