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Two firms to audit Nnpc, Customs, Firs, others

TWO auditors who are to examine the books of all revenue generating agencies will be named next Thursday.

Their job is to ascertain the level of compliance with established regulations on the remittance of revenues to the treasury.

For audit are: Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and others.

The National Economic Council (NEC) ad-Hoc Committee on the Management of Excess Crude Account Proceeds and Accruals into the Federation Account took the decision yesterday at its first meeting in Abuja.

Edo State Governor and Chairman of the committee Adams Oshiomhole said at the end of its fourth meeting with the revenue agencies that the decision to appoint reputable audit firms would rid the process of any political undertone and also ensure the handling of the matter by professionals.

Oshiomhole also announced that the NNPC, NPDC, DPR and NIMASA will be appearing before the committee next Thursday.

Some of the agencies that appeared yesterday include: Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), NCS, FIRS and the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) among others.

The meeting of the committee with the revenue generating agencies which started at about 11.00am lasted till about 8.30pm at the Imo Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.

The four-man committee which was set up after the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), headed by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, has Oshiomhole as chairman and governors Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) as members.

The committee was given a mandated, to, among others, investigate claims by the NNPC to have earned N8.1 trillion  (about $40 billion or 36 billion euros), with only N4.3 trillion paid into the Federation Account, while withholding and spending N3.8 trillion.

They have also been mandated to investigate massive dip in the Excess Crude Account, into which the difference between government-set oil prices and the international rate is deposited.

He said the "rainy day" account had plunged to $2 billion from $4.1 billion in November last year.

Oshiomhole said that the whole idea was to hear from the agencies what they have been doing and to find out whether the revenues generated were properly remitted for onward distribution to the three tiers of government.

He noted that the committee decided to extend its scope to other agencies because it is not only the NNPC that generates revenues for the government which are supposed to be remitted to the Federation Account, even though the major attention of Nigerians has been on the Excess Crude Account.

He said: "We decided to have a holistic view of the entire process and we are convinced that by appointing reputable audit firms to handle the process, it will be devoid of any form of politics and at the end, the outcome will earn the confidence of all agencies involved and Nigerians."

He said further that some of the agencies that appeared before his committee yesterday have more information to provide and they have been told to do so, pointing out that in line with the present administration's policy,  it will no longer be business as usual.

Oshiomhole argued that while Nigerians will be wondering why another forensic audit when PricewaterCoopers (PwC) had already audited the NNPC, he said: "You will agree with me that even PwC complained about the frustrations it had in carrying out its job as the informations it needed were not provided.

"You cannot carry out a successful audit without adequate information. There was no instrument to compel the NNPC to open their books. But with Buhari, the agencies must open their books or be ready to confront the government", he said.

According to him, the audit will be expected to cover the period between January 2010 and June 2015, adding that "if the audit report requires that we look backward beyond that period, it will be done. But we are looking at a five year period for now."

He, however, said the committee would not impose a time limit on the audit firms, saying "We have just taken the decision today. We will not impose time limit on them before we formally engage them. We will discuss with the, and by next week Thursday, we will officially announce the names of the two firms we are engaging to undertake the job."
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