How Obasanjo, Yar’adua, Jonathan allegedly blew over N70trn in 15 years – NEITI

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Executive Secretary, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Waziri Adio, Tuesday said that the administrations of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan blew over N70 trillion earned from sale of crude oil and gas between 1999 and 2014.

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Adio disclosed this in his office during an oversight visit by the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs. The NEITI boss insisted that unless the country developed a prudent way of expenditure, it is likely to be in for difficult times in the years to come.

He noted that it was unfortunate that despite the huge earnings from sales of crude oil over the years, the country was unable to account for over $100 billion in the excess crude account. He urged the Federal Government to immediately develop a saving culture that would ensure slash on government spending to the interest of the country.

Adio said: “Let me inform the committee that we discovered that between 1999 and 2014, the country spent over N70 trillion it received from oil and gas alone. That is a whole lot of money. What is sad is that it was spent without the country being able to show anything for it. I think it is quite unfortunate.”

“For the sake of emphasis, however, I think if previous administrations had developed a culture for prudent management of resources, Nigeria ought to have over $100 billion saved in the excess crude account. So, going forward, it is necessary for government to think about saving a lot more, and do all it can as well to cut down on wasteful spending if the nation must make progress.”

On the challenges confronting the agency, Adio told the committee that the country risked suspension from the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), if the agency failed to complete its audit report by a given deadline which comes up in December this year.

The NEITI boss also decried the paucity of funds in the agency due to late releases by the Ministry of Finance. He blamed lack of funds for the inability of the agency to conclude work on its audit report to the EITI. He noted that should Nigeria be suspended from the world body as a result of the agency’s failure to meet the December deadline for the submission of its audit report, the development would be an embarrassment on the image and reputation of the country.

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He said, “The agency has been battling with the issue of funding, and this is due to late releases. As a result of this challenge which we face, we have been unable to conclude work on the 2014 audit report. The deadline which we have been given is December, and this is due to the two year interval required to come up with one as stipulated by the world body. Failure to meet it may result in Nigeria’s suspension. That will be very embarrassing for us as a nation.”

Vice Chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna North), noted that the committee would require the effort of NEITI to close the communication gap between the agency and the upper chamber with a view to ensuring effective collaboration. He said that NEITI is the second agency of government among other that has not received its capital releases adequately met by the federal government.

He described the development as “a misnomer.” Hunkuyi said, “All agencies have had releases between 45 percent and 65 per cent. It is a misnomer to find that your agency up till this time has got less than 30 per cent, a figure which falls short of the average releases.

“Our focus now is to help you achieve greater heights, and this involves working with you and putting heads together so as to avoid a repeat of non-release of funds in the 2017 budget.”

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