…..Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor
All through its history, and throughout all the metamorphosis that it has undergone, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] has been a very special, secretive, hidden, and opaque golden geese laying the treasured eggs that has oiled successive regimes, and driven the competitive primitive accumulation of capital by Nigeria’s inept, but kleptomaniac ruling class!
But perhaps at no other time in our collective history as a nation, nor in its own specific history has the corporation become as far elevated above the legal, legitimate, constitutional, as it has become in recent years. The NNPC has become such a behemoth, not because of the size of its stock, the reach of its global economic or business domination; but entirely because of its transformation into an effective organised crime enterprise and empire; one within which there is diplomatic immunity for any type of economic criminality and a safe space for the most unthinkable breach of the constitution; as long as the Emperor sitting at the top of the dynastic sleaze and his court are being adequately serviced with the spoils of the monumental pillage of our collective wealth.
The latest in the long list of historic and historical heists perpetrated and perpetuated through the NNPC by any reigning emperor and his court is around the allegation of non remittance of statutory revenue generated through activities of the NNPC into the Federation account! No less an institution than the CBN, through the unusual step of a letter directly addressed to the President is the source of the current allegation. From the CBN, it has been revealed that over a period of 18 months alone [Jan 2012 to July 2013], the NNPC failed to remit a whooping N8tn into the Federation account from the sale of crude oil alone over that period. The NNPC has come out to once again, and as it has become traditional for it, vociferously deny any such allegations; each time always finding esoteric but spurious explanations for its central role in the grand looting of our treasury!
It must be said at this point that the NNPC is not alone in this institutionalised architecture for grievous, but also serial violation and breach of the constitutional and constitutionally and validly enacted laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
Early in 2013 we found out through the National Assembly [NASS] that more than 100 MDAs regularly either fail to remit revenue generated to the Federation account, or grossly under report their earnings in order to get away with remittance of only insignificant fractions of the revenue they have generated; in very clear breach of relevant laws. Additionally nearly 200 MDAs regularly fail to file their financial statements with the office of the Auditor General of the Federation!
So as we can see, the NNPC is not the only culprit, but given that it is the golden goose that lays the golden egg, it is by the most significant culprit of this criminality; and by any stretch of the imagination also the agency with most blatant disregard for constitutionalism in our land.
At other times in the recent past, the NNPC has been implicated in an historically long list of criminal pillage, and the most profound and intense looting of our collective wealth. Every single audit of the NEITI process has directly implicated the corporation in criminal activities including failure to remit appropriate taxes on its activities, as well as the gross under remittance of earned incomes!
In 2012 in the immediate aftermath of the January Uprising, and again in early 2013, it was severally revealed through various probe and investigative panel reports that the NNPC’s utilisation of the 445,000 barrels of crude concessionarily allocated to it for domestic refining is shrouded in mystery, given that according to its and government’s own claims the domestic refineries have never operated at more than 50% of installed capacity! Nevertheless the NNPC continues to enjoy this concessionary allocation in totality! Furthermore, the NNPC it was revealed regularly deducts money from its revenue before remitting the balance, for fuel subsidy claims that it pays to itself, as well as for fuel subsidy on fuel ostensibly refined at its subsidiaries, the domestic refineries! Let us take a look at one instance early in 2013: The NNPC claimed that its subsidiaries, the refineries were now refining a combined 10 million litres of petrol per day; yet the PPPRA claimed to have no knowledge of the existence nor receipt of these daily quantum of refined fuel,; nor was it aware that this quantity of fuel refined domestically was in anyway being utilised within the nation’s borders! Yet inspite of this outlandish claim by the NNPC, denied by the PPPRA, the Federal Ministry of Finance reports that we have curtailed fraudulent importation of refined fuel by bringing down the daily consumption rate of Petrol from the unprecedented and criminally inflated high of the 60 million litres per day of 2011 to an average of 40 million litres per day of 2012 and 38 million litres per day of 2013. The question to ask is where is NNPC’s phantom 10 million litres per day production of refined petrol? And a further question to ask? What is the current average level of capacity utilisation of the four moribund domestic refineries? Whatever the percentage or figure is; 40%, 50%, or 60%, what in quantitative terms does this translate into with respect to daily production rate of petrol? Where is this daily quantity utilised? What impact has it had on reducing the daily quantity of imported refined petrol?
Now let us leave the realm of the seemingly legal or illegal for a moment, and explore the world of the extralegal , the context of organised crime corporation. Under the watchful gaze of the NNPC, we witnessed and continue to witness not only the unprecedented spike in the illegal fuel subsidy theft regime from the average of roughly N500bn per annum to the astronomical figure of N2.7tn in 2011; but we have also witnessed, and continue to witness the equally epochal spike in the quantum and scale of crude oil theft, as well as the consequential damage to the environment. So from a daily crude oil theft rate of 50,000 to 100,000 barrels per day of crude oil, we have now reached the Olympian heights where the daily theft rate hovers around 400,000 barrels of crude per day; And this only since the outsourcing of Oil Pipeline surveillance and Maritime security, through juicy contracts annually worth over N30bn to armed merchants who just recently masqueraded as ‘armed militants’ with a cause!
And what has been the unacknowledged implication of this grand theft, protected and promoted, it seems by certain institutions of the state as well as certain very highly located personnel [elected and appointed] of the state? The loss of between $14bn and $18bn in annual revenue to crude oil thieves and their protected organised crime syndicates; But also a colossal and sustained devastation of the environment arising from the equivalent of a daily crude oil spillage rate of 40,000 barrels of crude per day, if we estimate a 10% rate of oil spillage from the grand daily crude oil theft rate of 400,000 barrels per day given the circumstances under which the theft is taking place!
So where has all of these left us? It has brought us to this historic juncture where the scale and scope of corruption has become such that it has become like an albatross weighing down and round the neck of our national economy; and impeding our national development, making it nearly impossible to undertake any sustained process towards combating the poverty and misery that have become the lived reality of more than 112 million Nigerians. It is why infrastructures cannot be build, why basic services cannot be provided, why we have 18 million housing units deficit, why unemployment grew from 8% to 24%, and youth unemployment to 50% in a period of 10 years.
What is the annual budget of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture [Less than N90bn] for example? What is the annual budget of Ekiti, or Osun, or Taraba, or Cross River states for example? Less than N120bn! Yet by some calculations, we lost N5.2tn to corruption and leakages in just 2 years [June 2010 to July 2012]; that is at an average Monthly Theft Rate of just over N220bn! This monthly theft rate is more than twice the grossly inflated contract for the Lokoja – Abuja Expressway construction; it is more than the N200bn deposit paid by the FGN as first instalment for infrastructural overall of public universities!
The N8tn that is the subject of the claims and counter claims between the NNPC and CBN, both agencies of the same Federal Government; will cover for at least 7 annual Capital Votes of the annual Federal Budget; that is 7 years worth of public investment in infrastructural development!
What manner of Blind, visionless, greedy, self-centred, and ruinously gluttonous ruling class is this? We continue to permit the overlordship of the teacherous, light fingered, and inept thieving treasury looting ruling class, only to our peril!
The Time To Act In Our Own Interests Is Now; Not Tomorrow, Not Next Year, Not during the 2015 General Elections; for at the precipitous rate at which this ruling class is steering our ship of state; it is debatable if our society can survive their calamitous greed!
It is our Country, Let Us Take Concrete and Immediate Steps To Take It Back From their Death Grip!
Nelson Nwafor is Executive Director Foundation For Environmental Rights,Advocacy & Development (FENRAD)