The House of Representatives, yesterday, told the NNPC Limited in clear terms that it must produce before it, the leadership of its 17 subsidiaries indicted by a report of the Auditor-General for the Federation over financial infractions between 2014 and 2019.
Speaking at the resumed investigative hearing on the report of the Auditor General, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Account, Hon Oluwole Oke said the action of the NNPC in shielding its subsidiaries amounted to hiding something from Nigerians.
But the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari told the committee that the company was not hiding anything from Nigerians, while also dismissing earlier media reports that about 107million barrels of crude oil could not be accounted for, in 2018.
Oke said the House was shying away from invoking the provisions of the constitution to issue a warrant of arrest on the leadership of the subsidiaries who have refused to appear before the parliament to answer questions arising from the AuGF report.
Reacting to the statement by the GMD that he would take responsibility for the actions of the subsidiaries, Oke said “With due respect, the parliament differs with you because we are guided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Legislative Houses Privileges Act and our rules.
“Yes, you have submitted a consolidated account. But the Auditor General, who submitted his report to us, conducted an audit pursuant to Section 85 of the Constitution and audited the account of these subsidiaries, published the report and submitted same to the parliament.
“The report specifically mentioned these subsidiaries and having done so, the parliament is duty-bound to take the queries and observations as contained in the report. Aside from this, parliament can also, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, invite anybody to give evidence before this parliament.
“If a particular agency under your leadership is mentioned, we cannot shave their head in their absence. They have to be here. Yes, you have rendered your account which is before us. But these subsidiaries must appear before this parliament to answer the queries raised by the Auditor-General for the Federation. They have to answer their father’s name.
“With due respect, the NNPC is not in a position to dictate to parliament how it conducts its business. We have to change the impression of Nigerians about NNPC. We have listened to the comments of some governors about NNPC and we must change the narration by telling Nigerians that NNPC operates transparently.
“Except and except you have something to hide, then you can continue to shield these subsidiaries. But they must appear before Nigerians and tell them about the funds in their kitty. They have to come here and answer the queries about the abnormalities the Auditor general observed in their operations. This is our position.
“We don’t want to go through the process of invoking the necessary laws by issuing a warrant of arrest. We believe that we can jaw jaw; that we can discuss because we are all serving Nigerians.
“These companies are your subsidiaries and if we are to go by your assertion that they are registered on their own under CAMA, then it further attests to the fact that they have to appear here by themselves. That is not even the issue, but the Auditor General for the Federation specifically listed the names of these companies. That is our position. So, take a date when you are bringing them.
“Your purpose of coming today is to produce these subsidiaries because you wrote that these agencies are under you. That was why we asked you to bring the leadership of these subsidiaries. That is what we expected today.
“If they are here, they should introduce themselves and the Auditor General will be invited to read out the queries for them to answer because the queries were hot directed to you in person. They were directed to these subsidiaries. We object to your position. They must appear here because this is their parliament. If they are not here, so be it. That is why we said you should give us a date to bring them”.
In his contribution, Hon Chinyere Igwe (PDP, Rivers) said by the admittance of the GMD, he cannot legally stand-in for the subsidiaries since he admitted that they were registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act and operating as individual companies.
He said “by the clarification of the GMD’s statement that these companies are fully registered, it means that they are entities of their own by the provision of the CAC act. As a result of that, the GMD is not totally liable. I, therefore, ask that the GMD allow them to stand on their own because he cannot speak for them.
“Any society that does not have laws, there will be anarchy and lawlessness, with the big killing the small just like we have right Russia killing Ukraine. Based on that, the constitution is the ground norm on which all Nigerians are relating. That is what gave rise to NNPC, parliament, Auditor General.
“By implication, the parliament did not make the Auditor General’s report. But these companies owned by Nigerians have refused to do what they are supposed to do. We have not asked you to come and tell us how many barrels of crude was lifted or how many of that was stolen or who has stolen them.
“There are silent questions raised by the Auditor General which they must tell us. We are not doing anything out of the ordinary, but just being guided by the ground norms in line with the constitution.”
In his remarks, the Group Managing Director of NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari said, “First, let me clarify an issue. NNPC has nothing to hide. We have nothing to hide from Nigerians. In view of that, we have published the same audited account that you have for Nigerians to see, read and comment on.
“Those accounts are a complete reflection of all our transactions, including our subsidiary companies. So, we are hiding nothing from Nigerians.
“I agree with you that we can be more transparent. Can we do something different from this? Absolutely yes. Are we doing enough? Yes, we are doing more than enough. No national oil company in this world publishes its audited statement of account. There is no company that publishes its monthly report as we do.
“Therefore, I expect that you should congratulate us that we are doing more than expectations in terms of transparency and accountability. We owe this to Nigerians because it is their company and we sincerely believe that this companies art owned by the over 200million Nigerians, we are accountable to them and we must be transparent by every means possible.
“But as we do this, we must also recognise that we are running a business on their behalf of this business has rules and responsibilities and part of it is to have a report of this nature which the Auditor General endorses by law for them to deliver on”.
On the ruling of the committee, the GMD said, “It is still very fair because I know that this is a very fair parliament. You are representatives of the people and so, have a responsibility to protect the people. You also have a responsibility to allow us to speak”.
Reacting to the reported missing of 107million barrels of crude oil, Kyari said, “I believe that this parliament represents all Nigerians collectively. We can have individual differences, but we all represent the interest of Nigerians. The image of Nigeria is very important.
“Two weeks ago, it was in all the media that 107million barrels of crude were stolen or diverted. You will not appreciate the evil of the bad image this has created for our country.
“Our lending partners have called me that this is a wrong approach and that they will not lend to us without clarifying issues. Auditor General is here and we are in the same country. We are all serving this country. You can’t declare something like that without it having an effect and if we don’t respond to this, it will be obvious that it is what is happening in our country.
“Nobody has stolen 107million barrels of crude oil. If for any reason, it was not well captured by the Auditor General, it is a different issue. So, this company is hiding nothing from none and we will appear before you as directed next week. But have it at the back of your mind that we have nothing to hide.”
LG Boss Lauds Mrs. Wike On Women’s Mentorship
Nigeria’s GDP Grew By 3.11% In Q1 2022, NBS Affirms
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.11per cent in the first quarter of 2022.
The NBS made this known via its Nigerian Gross Domestic Product Report Q1 2022 released, last Monday.
According to the report, Nigeria’s GDP grew by 3.11per cent year-on-year in real terms in the first quarter of 2022.
The NBS noted that the development showed a sustained positive growth for six consecutive quarters since the recession witnessed in 2020 when negative growth rates were recorded in quarter two and three of 2020.
It added that the first quarter 2022 growth rate further represents an improvement in economic performance.
The NBS stated: “The observed trend since Q4 of 2020 is an indication of a gradual economic stability.
“The Q1 of 2022 growth rate was higher than the 0.51per cent growth rate recorded in Q1 of 2021 by 2.60per cent points and lower than 3.98per cent recorded in Q4 of 2021 by 0.88per cent points.
“Nevertheless, quarter-on-quarter, real GDP grew at -14.66per cent in Q1 of 2022, compared to Q4 of 2021, reflecting a lower economic activity than the preceding quarter.
“In the period under review, aggregate GDP stood at about N45.317million in nominal terms.
“This performance is higher when compared to the first quarter of 2021 which recorded aggregate GDP of about N40.014million, indicating a year-on-year nominal growth rate of 13.25per cent.
“The nominal GDP growth rate in Q1 2022 was higher relative to the 12.25per cent growth recorded in Q1 2021, and higher compared to the 13.11per cent growth recorded in the preceding quarter,” the report read.
RSG Launches RIV-CARES Programme …World Bank Rates Rivers High
The Rivers State Government has launched the state COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (RIV-CARES) Programme.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike performed the launching at the NBA Secretariat in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Speaking through his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the governor said the programme was to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poor and vulnerable households and support micro and small-scale enterprises as a means of stimulating economic growth post-COVID.
According to the State Chief Executive, “the state government had signed in for the programme, made provisions in the 2022 Budget for Result Areas and signed Funds Release Policy, which is an assurance to the World Bank that funds shall be released for the implementation of the programme”.
Wike said the launching of the RIV-CARES Programme would create awareness for the people of the state and engender expression of interest by beneficiary households, communities and operators of micro and small businesses (SMEs).
The governor, who encouraged the Rivers people to take advantage of the opportunities provided by RIV-CARES to enhance their means of livelihood and reduce the spate of poverty in the communities, commended the World Bank and the Federal CARES for their support to the state.
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs. Titilola Kuna Cline, said in a bid to check the negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic on livelihoods, food security and micro and small businesses, the World Bank in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the state governments, introduced the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) Programme.
She said the state scaled through rigorous preparatory stages and qualified to participate in the programme whose objective was “to expand access to livelihood support and food security services, and grants for poor and vulnerable households and firms”.
According to her, the stages include, signing of subsidiary loan agreement and fund release policy by the government.
Others include the establishment of the RIV-CARES Steering Committee, establishment of State- CARES Coordination Unit domiciled in the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning and preparation of work plan.
“The NG-CARES, after domestication of programme implementation manual now known as RIV-CARES programme has the State Coordination Unit (SCU) saddled with coordinating implementation of RIV-CARES programme in the state and reporting to Federal-CARES supporting unit and the World Bank in Abuja.
“It is also a bridge between the delivery platforms and the State-CARES Steering Committee and for delivery platform under three Results Areas (RA1-3).
Cline listed the three areas to include cash transfer unit, labour intensive public works and community-driven development social (CDD-S) Plus.
The rest are, FADAMA and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Also speaking, the representative of the World Bank, Mr. Aso Vakporaye, said the programme must succeed in order to kick out poverty from the state in view of the fact that failure to kick out poverty would make life difficult for the entire citizenry.
He, therefore, thanked the governor for making it possible for Rivers State to participate in the programme.
Similarly, the World Bank and the Federal Government have rated Rivers State high in the implementation of the COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus scheme by the state government.
Representative of the World Bank Task Team Leader, Mr.Aso Vakporaye said this, yesterday, in Port Harcourt at the official flag offand implementation of the Rivers State COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (RIV-CARES) Programme in the state.
Vakporaye, who is also the chairman of the Federal Government’sFederal-CARES Technician Committee,confirmed that Rivers State has met the requirements for the implementation of the programme.
He said alot still remains to be done,adding that the state needs to release more money for the implementation of the programme.
Also speaking, theTechnical Head of State CARESCoordinating Unitand Secretary,RIV-CARESSteering Committee,Mrs Imaonyeni Ephraim, said the programme would improve the livelihood of the poor and vulnerable people in the state.
She said the programme, which runs for two years,was open to many beneficiaries.
The flag off was performed by the state Deputy Governor,Dr.Ipalibo Harry Banigo, onbehalf of Governor Nyesom Wike.
By: John Bibor
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