The Federal Government illegally diverted $1.05 billion (N378 billion at N360 to a dollar) sourced from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividend funds to secretly fund subsidy payment on petroleum products.
The diversion details according to Premium Times are coming amidst revelations from accusations the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has a $3.5 billion subsidy fund it is spending without appropriation by the National Assembly.
In October, a motion by Biodun Olujimi, (Ekiti-PDP) had triggered debates in the National Assembly on the purported $3.5 billion fund alleged to be managed by the state oil company.
But the NNPC said it had no such fund in its custody. Rather, it said it has a $1.05 billion fund it is using to stabilise petrol supply and distribution in the country.
While the NNPC, through its spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, initially claimed the corporation sourced the fund from an ‘international agency’, Maikanti Baru, NNPC group managing director, admitted last week that the money was sourced from the NLNG dividend fund.
Documents in the possession of the medium showed that the fund was sourced at the height of the fuel scarcity crisis between last December and January and was secretly diverted into payments on petrol supply and distribution.
The funds came from dividends paid to the Federal Government by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company, a firm in which the government owns 49 percent equity.
The Nigerian government is represented in the NLNG shareholding arrangement by the NNPC with 49 percent stake. Other shareholders are Shell (25.6 percent), Total (15 percent) and Eni (10.4 percent).
Dividends from the gas firm are meant to be shared by the federal, state and local governments of Nigeria. The funds are supposed to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation rather than spent unilaterally by any tier of government.
But PREMIUM TIMES has now confirmed that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government unilaterally — without required consultation with states and the national assembly– tampered with the NLNG funds. That was also done without the mandatory appropriation by the National Assembly.
Lawmakers say by his action, President Buhari has violated the nation’s appropriation law, and has therefore committed impeachable offences.
The administration has for years paid huge amounts as fuel subsidy (despite increasing the pump price of fuel), while denying making such payments. Federal lawmakers said the payments were surreptitiously and illegally done and have demanded investigation.
The lawmakers say spending on fuel subsidy or related spending without the approval of the National Assembly is extra budgetary and illegal.
Besides, the lawmakers said they were worried about the transparency of the arrangement, as only the group managing director of The NNPC, Maikanti Baru, and the corporation’s chief financial officer in charge of Finance & Accounts, Isiaka Abdulrazaq, were managing the secret funds without appropriation.
But the NNPC said through Mr Ughamadu that what was in existence was a $1.05 billion “revolving fund”, which was adopted by the NNPC as a strategy to comply with the directive by the National Assembly to find all ways possible to resolve the fuel supply crisis in the country late last year.
He claimed the fund, dubbed the National Fuel Support Fund, is jointly managed by the NNPC, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Petroleum Equalization Fund.
On the source of funds, Ughamadu claimed the agencies jointly sourced the money from an unnamed “international agency”.
But contrary to his claims, there are documents confirming Baru’s position that the source of the fund was the NLNG dividend account controlled by the corporation.
…Senate probes claimed intervention fund spent on Buhari’s re-election
The Senate has ordered an investigation into an allegation that special intervention project fund meant for ordinary Nigerians is now being used as a campaign tool for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Senate Minority Leader, Biodun Olujimi, said yesterday that the fund had been “politicised” and its beneficiaries were asked to submit details of their permanent voter’s cards.
For over 30 minutes, the Senate plenary became chaotic after Mrs Olujimi made the allegation.
She said officials disbursing the fund are circulating forms on which recipients are asked to write their names, gender and details of their PVCs.
She said such forms are accompanied by another from Access Bank containing details of payment.
Displaying the two forms, Mrs Olujimi urged the Senate to investigate the matter.
“Right now the funds are being used for political reasons and they are being dispensed and given freely to those people who can bring up their PVCs and signed several copies and the forms are with me,” she said.
“One of the forms is here with me and it is being disbursed by the special intervention body. They are now using the fund that is meant for all Nigerians for political reasons.”
She said raising one of the forms: “This one has ‘I stand with Buhari’ on it and it has a place where your PVC will be written with your gender and an attachment from Access Bank where money will be disbursed to you.
“There is no corruption greater than people using our collective fund to maintain a political party. There is a need for a committee to be set up to look into this issue.”
First to show intention of speaking was the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, who was promptly shouted down by opposition senators.
The chamber was soon thrown into confusion as both camps — ruling and opposition lawmakers — argued with senators moving around the chamber.
“Tinubu has seen you,” opposition senators chanted at some APC senators, referring to the former Lagos governor and influential APC leader, Bola Tinubu.
Mr Lawan was finally given time to speak. He said the social intervention programme of this administration is “computer-based, very transparent….”
He was again cut short by senators who booed him. “They have seen you, they have seen you,” some lawmakers shouted.
In a speech intermittently interrupted by yelling, Mr Lawan praised the SIP as a non-partisan initiative while showing support for investigation of Mrs Olujimi’s allegation.
The lawmakers finally adopted Mrs Olujimi’s prayer.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said an ad-hoc committee will be set up to investigate the allegation.
Adopting an additional prayer by Barau Jibrin (Kano North), the lawmakers also agreed to investigate the SURE-P programme of the Goodluck Jonathan Administration.