– As lawmakers grill Baru
Reps Demand Details Of NNPC’s past 7yrs Budgets – House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts on Wednesday grilled Maikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), for two hours, in search of answers to queries raised by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF).
Deliberating on the queries covering a period of eight years – necessitating the panel placing the corporation on Status Enquiry since 2017, the lawmakers demanded information covering all activities of the NNPC, as well as details of its approved budgets upon which it carried out all expenditures, during the period under review.
Baru had, upon appearance following refusal of the committee to entertain the queries due to his absence, expressed appreciation to members for honouring him with their patience and the opportunity to speak on matters concerning the corporation.
Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), the committee chairman, quickly informed the GMD that he was appearing before the Public Accounts Committee of the House, and that they, by practice, only entertain explanations from chief accounting officers of government agencies.
The panel had rejected the appearance by Isiaka Abdulrazak, NNPC’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), on the account that the letter introducing him to the committee was not signed by the GMD.
Chinda, therefore, demanded transparency and truthfulness in the submission of the accounting officer, as the work of the panel is only for the overall interest of the nation.
The GMD, having confirmed the origin and authenticity of documents submitted to the panel, was asked to state why the report didn’t cover the audited accounts as requested.
He said, while the information provided in the document were not up to date, the update had already been effected and that the secretariat would be given a copy while the rest would be supplied the following day.
Members observed that capital projects reportedly executed by the corporation were unduly dragged with budgetary provisions made yearly while completion was hardly achieved.
They wondered why projects, which are at 83.2 per cent completion, would still be under variations and reviews almost five years later in the face of annual budgetary allocations.
Questions regarding nominal rolls, procurement plans, staff training, recruitment, tax compliance, remittances, loan liabilities and evidence of project executions in line with approved budgets during the period under review came up.
While responding to a question regarding the engagement of a particular auditor, the CFO said the new management inherited a huge backlog of un-audited accounts that spanned a period of eight years, and decided to clear the backlog.
He said: “As at today, the NNPC has the most up-to-date audited financial statement in Nigeria.
“The quest to clear the backlog necessitated the decision to use a particular auditor, and by next year, the auditor would be changed.”
Baru, however, told to the committee that due to the nature of his job, he would plead with members to oblige his officers, especially the CFO, as he might not be available all the time to appear before them.
He assured the panel of compiling all items requested having taken copious note of all observations raised.
The NNPC boss also gave a progress report of the corporation’s achievement in curbing fuel scarcity, saying that “as of today, not only have we been able to surmount the problem of fuel scarcity, we have over 200 ships of 14.6 billion litres of fuel to last over 76 days supply and diesel for over 54 days supply.”
In his ruling, Chinda said: “Now for the documents we require from you, we’ve asked that you re-prepare some of the documents we have identified in line with the template that we sent to you, and that the approved budget for the period under review be forwarded to the committee.”
The GMD asked for one month to put all documents together before the next adjourned date.
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