The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) was launched in February 2004, and it was established to reduce the rate of corruption in the country ‘through promoting transparency and accountability in the management of Nigeria’s oil, gas and mining revenues’. The mandates include to ‘promote due process and transparency in extractive revenues paid to and received by government as well as ensure transparency and accountability in the application of extractive revenues’.
NEITI, in its periodic audit, has again revealed the mismanagement of financial resources set aside for natural resources development and ecological issues, through the fraudulent diversion of these monies to other non-related sectors. The report, focused on how nine resource rich states in Nigeria endowed with oil and gas and other mineral resources have deployed monies realized from the resources to improve the wellbeing of their citizens. The report also covered the remittances and management of special development funds from Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account (ECA), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Natural Resources Development Fund, Ecological Fund, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund) and Stablisation Fund.
On the judicious utilization of the funds meant for the Natural Resources Development Fund, one of the most underdeveloped states in Nigeria, Nasarawa, which despite its rich solid mineral resources, still remains largely underdeveloped, recorded a mismanagement of funds meant for the procurement of a 20 megawatts Farin-Ruwa hydro-electric power project, in the year 2008. The fund for the project was disbursed, but the only visibly related structure to the project, are the signpost and a block of building which is meant for security personnels constructed on the site.
The NEITI audit report of the natural resources development fund, further showed that the Natural Resource Development Fund meant for development of alternative sources of revenue from natural resources, between 2007 and 2011 were diverted to other non-related purposes, as N275 billion was used to service budget deficits, N94billion was used to procure fertilizers, N106billion was released to the Ministry of Agriculture as loan, and N350m was disbursed to PenCom for the purchase of a new office building. Hence, this has resulted in leaving the Natural Resource Development Fund in debit of N339billion ($1.9billion).
On the mismanagement and the fraudulent conversion of ecological funds which is the responsibility of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), a total of N217.456billion which was allocated for this purpose was also utilized for totally different purposes. About N6.7billion of this fund was released to the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) for the procurement of engineering infrastructures in Kubwa and Karshi, while the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), which statutorily is entitled to 20% of the ecological fund to aid quick response to natural disaster, got only N23billion of the set fund, leaving an outstanding N19billion. Others that directly benefitted from this fund include ministries (N10.4billion), departments and agencies of federal government (N93billion), state governments and the Nigerian military (N10billion).
The NEITI audit also showed that, legally, the ecological office which is setup at the Office of the SGF is not allowed to initiate or implement projects, but it awarded 139 projects worth over N40billion; disbursed over N24billion to project contractors, only completed 36 of these projects, and still owes over N16billion. In addition, the office of the presidency also granted funds directly to the state government for state-specific ecological problems, instead of going through the ecological fund office, which is the due process.
NEITI, in its audit report, generally recommended that all affected states apart from Rivers and Akwa-Ibom, should re-evaluate their recurrent expenditure profile, especially in relation to overhead costs and fee up resources for sustainable development, as states like Bayelsa spent 140% and 125% of their total expenditure in 2009 and 2010 on recurrent expenditure, while Imo used only 2.3% of total revenue on education and health and 72% on recurrent expenditure covering government running costs wages and overheads, hence, leaving these states (Bayelsa specifically) in debts and resorting to borrowing money for salaries and expenditure on capital projects.
CSNAC is by this petition requesting an immediate and thorough investigation into this fraudulent diversion and mismanagement of funds, to ensure that all those bodies and or persons guilty are brought to book. The Commission must ensure the retrieval of misappropriated funds from various ministries and or individuals involved for appropriate utilization as originally allocated. This is necessary to foster the country’s development of untapped resources and reduce her over dependence on oil and ensure ensure accountability and transparency in governance.
Your timely and thorough action would also help to check and correct the irregularities, the high corruption rate and fraudulent diversion and mismanagement of funds have cost the development of the states in the country.