The proposed $1.56 billion loan by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has continued to draw flaks, with members of the House of Representatives describing it as illegal. House Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, said yesterday that the loan was neither captured in the 2013-2015 Medium Term Framework, nor in the 2013 Budget.
But Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dieziani Allison-Madueke, and the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Andrew Yakubu, in separate statements, explained that the money in question was not a loan but a forward sales agreement between the corporation and its trading partners in lieu of the corporation’s indebtedness to them.
Tambuwal, Madueke and Yakubu made the statements during the commencement of a public hearing on the controversial loan by the House Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream), Aids, Loans and Debt Management and Justice.
The speaker said the rationale for probing the loan was in line with the resolve of the 7th House to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people of Nigeria and also ensure an entrenchment of a policy that all the citizenry could be proud of.
While encouraging the Joint Investigative Committee to do a thorough work on the matter, Tambuwal, who was represented by the Chief Whip of the House, Mr Ishiaka Bawa, expressed optimism that the findings and recommendations of the panel would tremendously influence the direction and decisions of the parliament.
His said: “The issue before us today for consideration, the proposed $1.56 billion loan by the NNPC is very important. It’s importance is predicated on the fact that the proposed loan was neither captured in the 2013-2015 Medium Term Framework, nor the 2013 Budget.
“As a Parliament, we believe that if we continue on the part of truth, history shall vindicate us. I assure you that members of the Seventh Assembly are fully committed to bringing the dividends of democracy to our people and ensuring that we have a policy that we shall all be proud of,” he assured.
He stressed: “It is on account of this belief that the House in its wisdom referred this matter to the committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream), Aids, Loans and Debt Management and Justice to investigate fully and report back to the House.
“We are convinced that your findings and recommendations will greatly influence the direction that the House will take, and, therefore, urge you to do a thorough job. As leaders, we must be sensitive to the needs of our people and do only those things that will reflect us in a positive light,” he added.
In his opening remark, the Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), and lead Chairman of the Joint Committee, Rep Muaina Ajibola, assured the stakeholders that the committee was only performing its constitutional function and would not witch-hunt anybody in the process. Meanwhile, representatives of the Head of Revenue Generating Agencies of Federal Government were, yesterday, walked-out of the meetings with Public Account Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives.
The PAC, headed by Solomon Adeola-Olamilekan, had invited the agencies like the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Nigeria Custom Service, and Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) to appear along with the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to defend queries raises against their audited accounts by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AGoF) for the year 2007.
But all failed to turn up, preferring, however, to send less important subordinates to answer to the demands of the committee. But only the Accountant General, Niyi Otunla, appeared in person to the surprise of the committee members.
While the other invitees refused to give any reasons for their absence, Adeola-Olamilekan told his colleagues that the Custom Service sent a letter last Friday, requesting for attendance on March 21, but that the request was turned down because the meeting had been fixed and that all other agencies are to appear along with the Accountant General.