By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Yesterday, Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, explained that the monthly meeting of the Federation Account and Allocation Committee (FAAC) ended in deadlock on Wednesday as a result of inability of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to properly reconcile its accounts.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting held on Thursday in Abuja, the Minister said this was what led to the walkout staged by Commissioners for Finance of the 36 states of the federation.
“Based on oil price and oil quantity, you can calculate what you are expecting to see in the Federation Account and if the figure is less, then the right question that any stakeholder must ask is why.
“So, we have been going back and forth with the NNPC to try and understand these figures before we can accept them.
“Remember that the FAAC figures have to be formally accepted by the federation account committee and we were simply not comfortable with the quantum of some of the deductions made and, therefore, we could not approve those figures,” the Minister said.
According to her, the NNPC is run like a business and it was proper for the state-owned oil agency to give proper account of its expenditure.
She said President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have been briefed of outcome of the inconclusive meeting, expressing confidence that another meeting should be conveyed very soon.
“In my capacity as the chairman of FAAC, I briefed governors on the deadlock that we have got currently in the Federation Account and explained what happened. There was quite an extensive debate on what to do.
“For the purpose of this briefing, we operate the NNPC as a business. We have invested public capital in that business; and we have expectations of return. And when that return falls lower than our expectations, then the owners of this business, which in this case are the Federal Government and states, need to act.
“So, that was what caused the deadlock yesterday (Wednesday) and we really felt the figures the NNPC was proposing for FAAC were unacceptable. We felt that some of the costs couldn’t be justified, and so we have decided that rather than approve the accounts, we will go back and do further work,” Mrs Adeosun said.
She told newsmen further that, “Further negotiations and interactions are going on with the NNPC as we speak. However, we did brief both Mr President and Mr Vice President on the deadlock and asked for their support and their forbearance in this, because the consequence of this is that salaries might well be delayed in many states as a result of this.
“But we feel that in order to get to the accurate figures that we need, we have asked for forbearance and the governors and the Federal Government are all in agreement that we need to get to the bottom of those figures.”
“So, even as we speak, there is an interface going on among the Commissioners of Finance Forum, Ministry of Finance, Office of the Accountant-General, the CBN and the NNPC. We hope to be able to convene FAAC within the next few days,” she noted.
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