The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has said the country has not been able to account for how about N70tn revenue generated from petroleum between 1999 and 2014, was spent by successive administrations within the period.
Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan were presidents within the period.
NEITI made the revelation against the backdrop that Nigeria had lost over $200bn it could have earned from the exportation and sales of mineral deposits found in several states of the federation in the last eight years.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio, told the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs during an oversight visit to his office that unless Nigeria developed a prudent way of spending, a tougher time lied ahead of the country.
He said it was “unfortunate and unthinkable” that despite the huge earnings recorded from crude oil sales over the years, the country had failed to account for at least $100bn in the Excess Crude Account.
Adio said, “Let me inform the committee that we discovered that between 1999 and 2014, the country spent over N70tn 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 anything 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 $100bn 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.”
The NEITI boss urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to develop a saving mechanism that would lead to drastic slash on government spending to the barest minimum, if the government must succeed.
Adio told the visiting lawmakers that Nigeria risked suspension from the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, if NEITI failed to complete its audit report by a given deadline in December this year.
The NEITI boss, while decrying paucity of funds due to late releases by the Ministry of Finance, told the committee led by its Chairman, Senator Tijjani Kaura (Zamfara-North), that the funding challenge led to the inability of the agency to conclude work on its audit report to the world body, EITI.
He warned that should Nigeria be suspended from the world body, it would have an adverse effect on the image and reputation of the nation before the international community.
Responding, the Vice-Chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, said the Senate would need the effort of NEITI to close the communication gap between the agency and the upper chamber of the National Assembly to ensure effective collaboration.
He noted that NEITI was the second agency among all government agencies that had not had its capital releases adequately met by the Federal Government, describing the development as “a misnomer.”
Hunkuyi stated that under the present administration, “all agencies have had releases between 45 per cent 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,” he said.