Nigeria lawmakers to investigate state oil company

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ABUJA: Nigerian lawmakers on Tuesday voted to probe the state oil company for allegedly failing to remit funds to the government.

There is an “urgent need” to investigate the “under-remittances” of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said Nicholas Ossai, a member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The 100 billion naira ($277 million, EUR236 million) shortfall is not connected to the oil price, which has been high in recent months, and is “likely as a result of some individuals not doing what they are supposed to,” Ossai said in the motion.

“It’s a question of when you see the effect and impact,” Ossai told AFP.

“The people who have worked have not received their salaries,” Ossai said, adding that the NNPC has “always given one reason or the other that are not cogent”.

The motion from the lower chamber comes after Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said on June 28 that remittances from the NNPC were “unacceptable”.

Adeosun said that oil proceeds have become an issue and that the government was investigating the NNPC’s claims that the funds were lower than expected because of the deduction of fuel subsidies.

The NNPC is the beating heart of Nigeria’s economy, which is reliant on oil for two-thirds of its state revenues and the vast majority of its export earnings.

The company, which has had a reputation for opaque accounting, has posted losses for the past three years, according to Bloomberg News.

Former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi was suspended after alleging that the NNPC failed to remit $20 billion in one year.

Legislation to commercialise the NNPC needs to be signed by President Muhammadu Buhari into law after being passed by the Senate and lower chamber House of Representatives earlier this year.

After nearly two decades of debate, the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill is set to overhaul the oil industry with the goal of improving profits and transparency. —AFP

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