Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio, yesterday revealed how former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan allegedly squandered over N70 trillion in 15 years.
Adio, who disclosed this to the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs during an oversight visit to his office, noted that the over N70 trillion represented earnings from sale of crude oil and gas between 1999 and 2014.
According to the NEITI boss, unless Nigeria develops a prudent way of spending, the country may be in for very rough times in the coming years.
Adio said it was unfortunate and unthinkable that despite the huge earnings recorded from crude oil sales over the years, Nigeria was unable to account for at least $100 billion in the excess crude account.
He, therefore, called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to develop a saving mechanism that would accommodate a drastic slash on government spending to the barest minimum, if his administration must succeed.
Adio said: “Let me inform the committee that we discovered that between 1999 and 2014, the country spent over N70 trillion it received from oil and gas alone.
That is a whole lot of money. And what is sad is that it was spent without the country being able to show for it. I think it is quite unfortunate.
“For the sake of emphasis, however, I think if previous administrations had developed a culture for prudent management of resources, Nigeria ought to have over $100 billion saved in the excess crude account.
So, going forward, it is necessary for government to think about saving a lot more, and do all it can as well to cut down on wasteful spending if the nation must make progress.”
Lamenting the challenges confronting the agency, Mr. Adio told the Senate committee that Nigeria risks suspension from the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), if the agency fails to complete its audit report by a given deadline which times out in December this year.
The Executive Secretary who also decried the unavailability of funds owing to late release of funds by the Ministry of Finance, told members of the panel led by its Chairman, Senator Tijjani Kaura (APC, Zamfara North), that same was responsible for the inability of the agency to conclude work on its audit report to the world body, EITI.
He said that should Nigeria be suspended from the world body as a result of the agency’s failure to meet the December deadline for the submission of its audit report, adding that such development would be an embarrassment on the image and reputation of the nation before the international community.
Adio said, “The agency has been battling with the issue of funding, and this is due to late releases. As a result of this challenge which we face, we have been unable to conclude work on the 2014 audit report.
“The deadline which we have been given is December, and this is due to the 2 years interval required to come up with one as stipulated by the world body.
Failure to meet it may result in Nigeria’s suspension. That, will be very embarrassing for us as a nation.” Responding, Vice Chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North), said that the committee would require the effort of NEITI to close the communication gap between the agency and the upper chamber with a view to ensuring effective collaboration.
According to him, NEITI is the second agency among all government agencies that has not got its capital releases adequately met by the federal government, describing the development as “a misnomer.”
According to him, under the present administration, “all agencies have had releases between 45 percent and 65 per cent.
It is a misnomer to find that your agency up until this time has got less than 30 per cent, a figure which falls short of the average release.
“Our focus now is to help you achieve greater heights, and this involves working with you and putting heads together so as to avoid a repeat of non-release of funds in the 2017 budget.”