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NNPC, others get deadline on queries

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed all Ministries, Departments  and  Agencies (MDAS) to respond to all outstanding queries within 30 days or face sanctions.
The development has created anxiety in more than 50 MDAs, including Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Department of Petroleum Resources and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) – all indicted in the 2012 Auditor-General’s Report.
The report questioned the deduction of N2,308,749,174,308.54 Excess Crude Oil/PPT/Royalty from oil and gas revenue before the balance was paid into the Federation Account.
The Office of the Auditor-General was finalising the compilation of 2013 Report.
Worried by the refusal to answer audit queries , Buhari threatened to wield the big stick.
 He also directed that henceforth, all audit queries must be answered within 24 hours.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity  to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Buhari was irrevocably committed  to tackling administrative and bureaucratic corruption.

The statement said: “President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Auditor-General of the Federation to ensure that all outstanding audit queries are conclusively resolved within 30 days.
“President Buhari has also ordered that henceforth, all audit queries must be answered within 24 hours.
“The orders followed the President’s displeasure on hearing that audit queries  remained unanswered for long periods, sometimes running into years, under previous administrations.”
Shehu said those who violate financial regulations will henceforth pay a heavy price.
He said: “The era of impunity is gone. The President is taking the war on corruption to the civil service. He is not happy that standard operating procedures and financial regulations  are no longer being observed as they should.
“President Buhari will ensure that public officials and civil servants in the service of the Federal Government pay a heavy price from now on for violating financial regulations or disregarding audit queries.”
He added that the President was determined to “put an end to the present situation in which, rather than respond to legitimate audit queries, violators of financial regulations in government resort to threatening, bribing or mounting other forms of social pressure on auditors.
“On his watch, President Buhari wants to see firm action against those who violate extant financial regulations, not the prevarications and shenanigans that went on in the past in the form of endless probes and public inquiries.”
Some of those with outstanding queries in 2012 AGF Report are:
*NNPC -(1) Deduction of N2,308,749,174,308.54 Excess Crude Oil/PPT/Royalty from oil and gas revenue before the balance was paid into the Federation Account.
 (2) Failure to  remit revenue from domestic crude oil sales totaling N936,027,634,479.81 as well as $998,881.77 interest earned on the Joint Venture Cash Calls in 2012
*DPR——(a)  N377,264, 685, 789.54 questionable deductions  in favour of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
(b) $706,880,265.22 unpaid by 21 oil companies as royalties on oil.
*The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) got N1, 454,035, 989,899.78.
*PPPRA——Payment of N229,740,438,597.27  as subsidy
*Office of the AGF———To explain the difference of N41,856,530,921.54 as well as pay back total sum of N1,901,213,713,587.07 into the Federation Account.
The Nation had exclusively reported some of the outstanding queries from the Auditor-General of the Federation in connection with NNPC and some of its subsidiaries.
The 2012 Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF)  report questioned the deduction of N2,308,749,174,308.54 Excess Crude Oil/PPT/Royalty  from oil and gas revenue before the balance was paid into the Federation Account.
The query came on the heels of the inability of the Auditor-General to obtain a legal authority for the creation of the Excess Crude Oil/PPT/ Royalty Account.
Of the deductions,  N477,448, 498,6 19.22 was drawn in favour of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and N377,264, 685, 789.54  in favour of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) got N1, 454,035, 989,899.78.
The report also discovered payment of various sums of interests to the Federal Government’s excess proceeds of PPT/Royalty  Account  accruing  from fixed term deposits that could not be established.
It was also reported that $219,247,398 .77 was credited to the FGN Excess Proceeds Crude oil sales account and $443,844,581.47 was credited to PPT/Royalty Account as interest on fixed term deposits.
“In addition, $221,219.79 was credited to the FGN Excess Proceeds of crude oil sales account; $453,803.13 was credited to PPT/Royalty Account as interest on ordinary deposits.
“However it was noted in the report that ‘the authority for placing the funds’ which yielded the above interests in deposit account was not made available as requested.
“The banks where the deposits were made, principal sums deposited, tenor and rate were also not made available for audit verification as requested.
“During the examination of the statements of the Bank for International Settlement Account of FGN Excess Proceeds of PPT/Royalty Account, the AGF also observed that ‘an amount of $500m was debited into the account on the 29th August 2012 and described as interest on fixed term deposit’.
“The Accountant General of the Federation, in the report, was queried to explain the difference of N41,856,530,921.54 as well as pay back N1,901,213,713,587.07 into the Federation Account, out of which N1,132,619,890,792.96 is for joint venture cash calls (JVCs); N260b is for petroleum subsidy; N477,448,498,619.22 is for excess crude sale and N31,145,324,174.89 under remittance of revenue deducted at source by NNPC from the revenue proceeds in accordance with Section 162(1) of the 1999 Constitution.”
A Presidency source said: “By this directive, President Muhammadu Buhari is only asserting the  roles of the Auditor-General of the Federation as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
“You can see that we have suffered a systemic collapse over the years. When Buhari said he inherited rot, some Nigerians thought he was crying wolf.  In fact, since 1999,  MDAs have been treating AGF queries with disdain.”
Section 85 (4-6) of the constitution states: “(4) The Auditor-General shall have power to conduct checks of all government statutory corporations, commissions, authorities, agencies, including all persons and bodies established by an Act of the National Assembly.
“(5) The Auditor-General shall, within 90 days of receipt of the Accountant-General‘s financial statement, submit his reports under this section to each House of the National Assembly and each House shall cause the reports to be considered by a committee of the House of the National Assembly responsible for public accounts.
“(6) In the exercise of his functions under this Constitution, the Auditor-General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person.”
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