The acting executive secretary of NEITI, Dr Orji Ogbonaya Orji, has said that there was a deficit of $9.8 billion (about N2 trillion) in monies paid to the government in 13 years.
Represented by the agency’s acting director of Communications, Mrs Obiageli Onurah, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 2015 International Anti-corruption Day, organised by the Inter-agency Task Team (IATT) in conjunction with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), he said, “The disclosures from the independent audits showed that the difference between what companies paid to government and what government confirmed it received from the oil and gas sector alone in 13 years is $9.8 billion.”
The NEITI boss who attributed this to sharp practices in the system also highlighted the causes to include “underpayments, underassessment of taxes, and other process lapses which the NEITI established needed to be addressed.”
Orji, who noted that the revelations contained in the audit report have become the basis for the ongoing massive reforms embarked upon by the government of the day, commended the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the political will to fight corruption which, according to him, has made it possible for the ongoing restructuring of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The executive secretary, however, regretted that several other areas of the recommendations, such as the issue of subsidy regime, Joint Venture Cash Calls management, the need for open and competitive bidding in the allocation of oil blocks, oil theft, installation of metering system for accurate measurement of crude, and the need to review all operating agreements and memoranda of understanding and take a proactive approach in determining fiscal regimes in the industry, calling for a comprehensive implementation of the reports, are yet to be addressed.
While revealing that there are abundant solid minerals in commercial quantities across all the states of the federation, Orji attributed the cause of underdevelopment in the sector to poor synergy between the various government agencies there-in.
December 9 every year is set aside by the United Nations to mark the International Anti-corruption Day globally. In Nigeria, all the 22 agencies with anti-corruption mandates, through the IATT, have since 2009 been celebrating the day. The Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms (TUGAR), headed by Lilian Ekeanyanwu, provides the secretariat and coordination for IATT and is housed by NEITI. The EFCC, ICPC, police, among other law enforcement agencies constitute the IATT.