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CNPP Doubts NNPC’s N674bn FY’21 Profit, Calls for Investigation

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mele kyari NNPC1

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has expressed doubts over the profit after tax of N674 billion declared by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited on Tuesday in the 2021 financial year.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the group called for an independent investigation of the NNPC management and board members in the last seven years.

Yesterday, the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, Mr Mele Kyari, informed reporters at a press briefing in Abuja that the organisation improved its net profit by 135 per cent from the preceding year’s N287 billion.

“It is difficult for the NNPC Limited to convince patriotic Nigerians that its declared profits in two years are not manipulated,” CNPP said in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Mr Willy Ezugwu.

“The CNPP calls for proper investigation of the management of the company and the board of NNPC over the last seven years, particularly those who approved 2021 audited financial statements, declaring NNPC to have made the unimaginable 134.8 per cent YoY profit growth in 2021.

“To point out a few reasons why the profits being declared annually by NNPC since 2020 are very doubtful, we note that in 2017, Nigerian lawmakers uncovered alleged $15 billion unremitted oil and gas revenue.

“The alleged revenue leakage was exposed by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating missing $17 billion crude oil and liquefied natural gas revenue when the committee uncovered the $15 billion unremitted revenue into Federation Account.

“According to the House Committee, a trace of the alleged missing fund, believed to have been stolen and diverted to a foreign destination, was contained in two documents submitted by the then Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, at the committee’s sitting.

“To date, nobody has been prosecuted, and nobody was sacked.

“Again, by 2018, N4 trillion was reported to be unremitted by the NNPC as revealed in 2016 audit report indicating that some revenue collecting agencies in NNPC and DPR did not remit any revenue into the Federation account for some months, neither was any explanation given why those months recorded no revenue.

“The audit report highlighted a few of the auditor’s discoveries, indicating that the total unremitted revenue as of 1st January 2016 from amounts payable into the Federation Account by NNPC was ₦3,878,955,039,855.73 (that is, three trillion, eight hundred and seventy-eight billion, nine hundred and fifty-five million, thirty-nine thousand and eight hundred and fifty-five naira).

“Also, the sum of N1,198,138,355,860.30 was due in revenue to the Federation Account out of the total generated in 2016. However, NNPC paid the sum of N1,000,545,058,966.2, resulting in an amount withheld of N197,593,296,894.02. This brought the total amount withheld by NNPC from the Federation Account as of 31 December 2016 to N4,076,548,336,749.75,” the CNPP stated.

The umbrella body of all registered political parties and political associations in Nigeria then accused the “NNPC management of inability of keeping accurate records, let alone making huge profits as it has been declaring since the 2020 pandemic year.

“For instance, it was reported that NNPC failed to clearly state exactly the quantity of crude oil lifted or delivered to Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company (WRPC), and Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company (KRPC) in the said audit report.

“Accordingly, media report in 2018, from the examination of the Domestic Crude Oil Lifting sales profile, a total crude oil lifting of 8,399,027 bbls with a total sales value of $376,655,589.03 (N102, 659,577,632.16) was stated to have been lifted jointly by these two companies.

“Therefore, the auditor held that the failure to properly separate these deliveries and charge directly to each company makes it difficult to reconcile and account for each lifting.

“Again, to date, nobody was queried, and no person was sacked”, the CNPP observed.

“Also, in 2019, the House of Representatives accused Federal Government’s ministries, departments and agencies of failing to follow the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy, leading to revenue leakages.

“The House said it had discovered that over $900m was still “being held” by the MDAs outside the TSA.

“The House indicted the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Nigeria Customs Service, ministries and banks of various infractions.

“The House specifically accused the NNPC of extra-budgetary spending as the committee said that from the information submitted by NNPC itself, Brass LNG received an appropriation of $511.60m while the actual release was $461.54m during 2012-2017 fiscal years.

“The House panel said that the ‘Appropriation Acts 2012-2017 depicted $550.33m for the Brass LNG project. But it is very important to note some key observations in the table above: The total appropriation is $511.60m, according to the NNPC. The actual funding for the Brass LNG project from 2012 to 2017 stood at $461.54m. The unutilised portion is $331.72m. The NNPC stated unrealised balance with the DMBs being $708.29m.’

“The House Committee then observed that some MDAS claimed to have obtained a presidential exemption to operate certain accounts outside the TSA policy.

“In the case of NNPC, the committee insisted on sighting the purported exemption letter. However, to the dismay of the committee, the letter was only conveying the approval of the President, signed by an assistant director.

“The lawmakers also accused NNPC of financial operations outside the TSA, saying, “The balance in this (CBN Joint Venture) account as reported by the NNPC, dated 30th October 2017, stood at $188,900,383.49. These are the various accounts classified as accounts still not being moved to TSA by CBN, DMBs account.”

“The House committee had also discovered three accounts held by the NNPC in Aso Savings and Loans PLC and Unity Bank PLC where the accounts included two placement accounts called NNPC PFL Placement Deposit and the third account called NNPC Pension Fund account. The total balance in these accounts as of August 27, 2017, stood at N1, 079,444,746.49”, the CNPP quoted the committee.

“No fewer than 20 recommendations by the House Committee panel were unanimously approved by the House, and till date, no official of NNPC was sacked even as none was prosecuted.

“According to a report by Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in 2021 and widely published in the media, a total of 77 oil companies were owing Nigeria N2.659trn unremitted funds.

“Besides the consistent revenue shortfall yearly, which resulted in Nigeria’s borrowing sprees to finance its huge budget deficit with debt servicing gulping as much as 98 per cent of Nigeria’s revenues, the NNPC was reported to have made a huge deduction of N149.2 billion from the federation’s joint account when the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) met in October 2021.

“If NNPC makes huge deductions from the Federation Account and often withholds Federal Government’s legitimate revenues, how is it possible for the same NNPC to be declaring profits for the second consecutive year?

“Or does the NNPC convert the unremitted revenues and deductions from Federal Accounts into profits?, the CNPP asked.

“The issue of oil theft was also mentioned by the NNPC Limited’s boss, Mallam Mele Kyari.

“He said that the oil spill in the Bodo community of Rivers State has led to the Nembe pipeline, which is making the country lose over 100,000 barrels per day while lamenting the high rate of oil theft in the country.

“For the CNPP, we believe that the NNPC knows those behind oil theft, and they should go after them instead of mouthing that it has heavily invested in securing its facilities in the oil-rich region.

“If they don’t know, they should see human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), who recently said that they have all information relating to stolen Nigerian crude oil. The lawyer recently pledged to make available such information if needed by the Federal government”, the CNPP stated.

“As far as the CNPP is concerned, rather than continuing the fruitless policy of destroying hundreds of thousands of illegal refineries operating in the Niger Delta for these years, the NNPC should set up criteria for both standardising the operations of the legal refineries operators and licencing them as modular refineries operators in the region to save Nigeria billions of dollars wasted on importation of refined petroleum products due to ineffective government refining facilities.

“But such ideas as local refining of crude oil can never be welcomed by the NNPC management and Board who could be the ultimate beneficiaries of the sustained fuel subsidy regime that has been severally adjudged as the most corrupt in the world even by the All Progressives Congress (APC) before it came to power in 2015.

“NNPC management would rather invest in endless and wasteful turnaround maintenance of Nigeria’s expired refineries instead of building modern refineries, at least one refinery in the last seven years of the APC administration.

“Until NNPC management is made to answer all questions relating to unremitted revenues and its corruption-infested subsidy regime, the CNPP will consider any profit declared by the NNPC management as mere paperwork and, most likely, a manipulation of figures to confuse unsuspecting Nigerians.

“Therefore, we believe that a profitable NNPC can only be possible when the management of NNPC is held accountable, and Nigeria gets functional refineries that would bring to an end the current importation of refined petroleum products into the country.

“We’ll continue to insist on an independent forensic audit of NNPC operations from 1999 to date to enable Nigeria to recover all stolen oil revenues, some of which have been declared as unremitted, particularly since 2015”, the CNPP said.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

Economy

House of Reps Tells CBN to Suspend New Cash Withdrawal Limits

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House of Reps Tells CBN to Suspend New Cash Withdrawal Limits

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has been told to immediately suspend the new limits placed on the withdrawal of cash from over-the-counter (OTC), Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Sales (POS).

On Tuesday, the central bank said from January 9, 2023, any cash withdrawal above N100,000 for individuals would attract a 5 per cent processing fee and a 10 per cent processing fee for withdrawals of more than N500,000 for corporate organisations.

This policy is already generating mixed reactions, with POS operators saying it would push them into the unemployment market because of the loss of jobs and the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) saying stakeholders were not “extensively consulted” by the CBN before its announcement.

At the plenary on Thursday, a lawmaker, Mr Aliyu Magaji, who moved a motion of urgent public importance, warned that the new policy could spell doom for the economy as several people would lose their jobs, while traders, artisans and rural dwellers would suffer because of the cash limits.

His colleagues agreed with him and criticised the apex bank for the policy.

Though the Minority Leader, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, pointed out that the new cash withdrawal limits would check crimes as funds would now be tracked through the banking system, he emphasised that the timing was wrong.

The other legislators echoed this opinion and added that it would have serious consequences and adverse effects on businesses and Nigerians who have no access to the banking system.

As a result, they asked Mr Emefiele to roll back the policy, summoning him to appear before them on Thursday, December 15, 2022, to explain the policy and why it should not be rejected.

Incidentally, the day he is to appear next week is the same day the CBN plans to officially introduce the newly redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes into circulation.

The Naira was redesigned by the apex bank to control the volume of cash in the financial system after it was discovered that more than 80 per cent of cash in circulation was not in the banks’ vaults.

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Economy

New Cash Withdrawal Policy Was Without Extensive Consultation—NECA

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Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association NECA

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of not consulting with stakeholders extensively before coming up with the new cash withdrawal policy expected to take effect from January 9, 2023.

In the new directive, the CBN said the maximum cash that can be withdrawn from banks is N100,000 per week for individuals and N500,000 for corporate organisations. Also, customers would not be able to withdraw more than N100,000 from the Point of Sale (PoS) machines and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and N20,000 per day. It further said the highest Naira note to be loaded in ATMs is N200.

However, withdrawals above the cash limits via over-the-counter, according to the directive of the apex bank, would attract 5 per cent for individuals and 10 per cent for companies.

Commenting on the new development, the Director-General of NECA, Mr Wale-Smatt Oyerinde, emphasised that the livelihood of many individuals and enterprise sustainability would be impacted.

“As usual with the CBN, the bank announced a new naira withdrawal policy without extensive consultation with organized businesses and those that will be directly impacted by the policy.

“This new policy is diversionary and a mere distraction from the critical issues that are affecting the nation,” Mr Oyerinde stated.

Speaking further, he said, “While it is desirable to get all bankable individuals and businesses into the banking system and promote the cashless policy of the CBN, the timing without adequate preparation and sensitization of the critical mass that drives the economy (the SMEs and MSMEs) could prove counter-productive and further drive many below the poverty line.

“This is another classical example of the inconsistencies and misalignments between the fiscal and monetary policies of the government.

“It is absurd to blatantly set traps of processing fees for individuals and businesses who desire to withdraw their hard-earned money from the bank for legitimate and genuine business transactions.

“It is also important to note that the banking infrastructure and mobile/digital facility to drive the cashless policy are not sufficiently developed. This is not only draconian but also inhuman.

“We urge the CBN and, indeed, the federal government to replicate the energy and promptness used in implementing this policy to address the issues of dwindling value of the Naira, rising inflation, oil theft, ballooning foreign debt, and get millions out of poverty realm.”

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Economy

SEC Plans to Boost Value of Shariah-Compliant Products to N5trn by 2025

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non-interest capital market Shariah-compliant products

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said it plans to expand the size of the Shariah-compliant products in the non-interest capital market in Nigeria to at least N5 trillion by 2025.

The Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, said the revised edition of the Capital Market Master Plan (2021 – 2025), which was launched recently, has mapped out ways to achieve this goal.

Speaking at the opening of a three-day capacity-building workshop for local Shariah talent for non-interest capital market held at the SEC head office in Abuja on Wednesday, Mr Yuguda said this could be achieved through the listing of at least 50 Shariah-compliant products.

The DG, who was represented by the SEC’s Executive Commissioner Operations, Mr Dayo Obisan, said that the Non-Interest Capital Market (NICM) also plans to ensure 100 retail Shariah-compliant products and attract about 1 million direct investors in the ecosystem.

Mr Yuguda noted that with these new responsibilities, promoting capacity-building programmes, such as the workshop, on Shariah-compliant processes and products (Regulators and Operators) has become necessary for the NCIM.

He said the commission, in recognising the potential of the non-interest capital market for economic growth, dedicated a component in its 10-year policy to the speedy development of the market in the financial system.

Specifically, Mr Yuguda said the plan provides clear strategic objectives for the development of the market, one of which is the “encouragement of the development of stakeholders for the market” and today’s workshop is evidence of the realization of this particular objective.

The stride and significant achievements recorded by the policy, he said, are evidenced by the last ranking of Nigerian Islamic Finance in 13th place on the global Islamic Finance Development Indicator 2021, with the assets under management valued at N2.30 billion, which is higher than countries like Bangladesh and Turkey.

“As you may be aware, the major difference between conventional finance and non-interest finance is the application of Shariah principles. This simply means that a non-interest financial market cannot exist without experts in Islamic commercial jurisprudence (FiqhulMu’amalat Al-Maliyya).

“Therefore, this Workshop will help in fast-tracking the development of experts for the Market. We believe that it would be a magic lamp for developing our local Sharia talent, not only for the Nigerian capital market but for the Nigerian financial system in general.

“The level of activities in the non-interest capital market that we are currently experiencing in Nigeria affirms the overwhelming acceptance of NICM products by the country’s populace. This shows a strong appetite for other alternative forms of investments.

“Recently, the market witnessed the entrance of institutions offering non-interest capital market services/products and the oversubscription of the FGN and corporate Sukuk, further buttresses the need for this workshop to encourage the development of Shariah experts for the market.”

The DG said the workshop is aimed at exposing participants who have the potential to provide Shariah advisory services for the Islamic finance industry, particularly the non-interest capital market’s operations as it relates to Shariah principles and rulings. It is also planned to be in two levels, Level 1 and 2.

He stated that Level 1, is focused on the basic areas of financial market structure and operations of the capital market, Shariah principles and contracts relating to non-interest capital markets, as well as Shariah issues relating to the operations and businesses of the market, among others while level-2 which will address the operation of the Sukuk and equity markets.

The SEC boss said NICM has so much potential in the country by attracting an untapped investor base who appears indifferent to conventional instruments to participate in the capital market as well as the existing investors to diversify to ethical and socially responsible investments.

“We believe that developing Shariah talent through a Workshop like this is another opportunity of creating awareness for the non-interest capital market products and services, which in turn will facilitate the financial inclusion drive in the Nigerian Financial System.

“I am happy to note that the commission recently exposed registration rules to set a minimum standard for corporate or individuals seeking to provide Shariah advisory services for non-interest capital market activities. This is to encourage further and attract the attention of qualified persons and entities to engage in the Shariah advisory function for the non-interest capital market.”

Mr Yuguda expressed the confidence that the participants will benefit from the vast knowledge and experience of the facilitators, which will bring about a much-needed impact on the participants and the market in general.

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