News / Africa

    Nigerian Senate Orders Audit of Unaccounted $20 Billion in Oil Revenue

    Reuters
    Nigerian lawmakers investigating a claim that the state oil company has failed to remit $20 billion in oil revenues ordered a forensic audit of fuel-subsidy payments on Thursday to find out where the money has gone.

    Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi wrote a letter last September to President Goodluck Jonathan saying almost $50 billion in revenues from oil exports from January 2012 to July 2013 had not been remitted to the federation account, in a clear violation of the law.

    He later lowered the estimate to $20 billion in his testimony to a Senate committee investigating the case. On Thursday, that committee questioned the finance minister, oil minister and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which denies Sanusi's charge that it runs fraudulent rackets.

    The governor's suspicion of massive fraud at the heart of one of the world's most opaque state oil companies has put pressure on Jonathan a year ahead of elections, when he is already reeling from a failure to quell a northern Islamist insurgency.

    It has also scared off debt investors worried about government squandering of oil revenues during election cycles. Sanusi said graft is slashing forex reserves needed to support the naira. The currency fell to an all-time intraday low of 167 to the dollar on Thursday, driven by foreign portfolio outflows, until the bank intervened.

    The biggest gap in accounting is for $8.5 billion the NNPC says it retained from revenues during the 19-month period to cover subsidies it was owed on importing gasoline and kerosene.

    NNPC says it buys kerosene at 150 naira a liter and sells it to suppliers at 50 naira per liter. But the retail rate is still 150 naira, which Sanusi said showed the subsidy was just “rent generated for the benefit of those in the kerosene business”.

    He also says a directive in 2009 by then President Umaru Yar'Adua, who died in May 2010, scrapped kerosene subsidies. Petroleum Minister and NNPC Chair Diezani Alison-Madueke told the committee they continued to subsidize kerosene despite the presidential order to prevent hardship for Nigerians.

    Call for transparency

    “This illegality must end,” Senator Ibrahim Gumba said at the hearing. NNPC had no legal right to ignore a presidential order or to collect a subsidy that was not allocated, he said.

    The head of the committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, told the finance ministry to set up an independent audit of subsidy claims approved for NNPC by the petroleum regulator PPPRA, which came under scrutiny in 2012 over a separate multi-billion-dollar fuel subsidy fraud involving private companies.

    Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala agreed to organize a forensic audit.

    Among items requiring an explanation are the fact subsidies were being paid out on 54 million liters of fuel per day, even though Nigeria only consumes 40 million liters per day - a discrepancy that lay behind a previous subsidy scam.

    Sanusi also said that some of the $6 billion that NNPC's producing arm, NPDC, earned during the period should have been submitted to government accounts. Instead, it has been funneled into private hands through special deals given to oil companies.

    NNPC has been criticized in several investigations in recent years, but consistently denies any wrongdoing.

    “It is a lack of communication and misunderstanding which are causing these embarrassments,” said Alison-Madueke.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora