Nigeria Loses Huge Monies To NNPC Election Funding

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has carried out audit reports focusing in the oil and gas sector, findings from the reports showed that Nigeria in the last 10 years lost at least ‘US$2.6 billion to corruption in the sector.

In all the audit reports, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), a dominant player in the oil and gas revenue has been indicted for lack of transparency and accountability.

The audit reports show that instead of being transparent and accountable in the entire process, operations are carried out without due process. Although, there is a laid down procedures that guide the operations, however, these procedures are often disregarded.  When they are adhered to, the key players have a way of circumventing the process to benefit them.  And this has continued to make accountability and transparency in the oil revenue practically impossible.

Cases of the NNPC disregard to due process are numerous, for instance, in October 2017, a letter alleged to have been written by Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources was sent to Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian President. And in the letter, Mr. Maikanti Baru, the NNPC Group Managing Director, was accused of insubordination and total disregard of due process in the award of contracts worth over N9 trillion.

Apart from the challenges of transparency and accountability, media reports have shown, in the last four years, oil and gas sector has pumped a huge amount of monies into electioneering campaigns. The reports showed how NNPC collectively pumped over $100m into the 2015 presidential election.

By June 2017, Sahara Reporters reported how Fidelity Bank disbursed the sum of N264 million to two officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to facilitate election outcome. Mr. Timothy Olaobaju, a staff of the Bank who is standing trial for his alleged involvement in the deal at the Federal High Lagos, during cross-examination confirmed deposit of the monies by various oil companies and individuals on the instructions of Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the former minister for petroleum.

In a similar vein, Mr. Dauda Lawal, Executive Director, Public Affairs at the First Bank of Nigeria, was arrested by the EFCC for allegedly aiding Diezani in laundering over $55million campaign funds. Also, Mr. Yemi Adeola, Sterling Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, was forced to return the sum of N5 billion he benefited for helping in the $88 million election fund.

By May 2016, a report from Sahara Reporters showed how EFCC traced the sum of $115m alleged to have been distributed by Diezani for 2015 election was traced to stolen crude. In an effort to recover the money, top personnel in INEC who were implicated in the deal had their account frozen.

In a related development, by May 2017, Mr. Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, the former Kaduna state governor was arrested by EFCC for collecting over N700million from Diezani to be used for party campaign. In addition, Mr. Shekarau, former governor of Kano state admitted that N950million was shared in his house. Shekarau said this when reacting to an invitation by the EFCC for his alleged involvement in the N23 billion campaign fund allegedly spearheaded by, Diezani. Mr. Ali Modu Sheriff, the former chairman, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was forced by the EFCC to return the sum of N40million he collected as a campaign fund from Diezani.

Having looked at election funding pattern by the NNPC, there is the need for citizens demand, to make NNPC stay away from funding party campaigns, and in that demand, the corporation must be made to be more transparent and accountable on how it generates and utilizes revenue for the citizens good.

Audu Liberty Osen, Publish What You Pay-Nigeria