The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has described its decision to undertake a fiscal allocation and statutory disbursement audit of funds accrued to the Federation Account from Nigeria's oil sector to the relevant beneficiaries as a necessary measure to foster public finance accountability.
NEITI explained that the audit, which will examine issues surrounding the 13 per cent derivation to benefitting states, management of Federal Government's share of the derivation and ecological funds as well as the Excess Crude Oil Account (ECA), was long overdue and would help stem the usual friction in revenue allocation, disbursement and application.
Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, in her remarks at the signing of the contract for the conduct of the audit by indigenous accounting and auditing firm, SIAO Professional Services, in Abuja, stated that the agency was aware of the challenges before it in the process of trying to promote public trust through the audit exercise.
She explained that the audit was essentially necessary to give further credence to NEITI's drive to ensure appropriate application of revenues accrued to federating units from Nigeria's mineral resources, adding that NEITI will persuade rather than coerce affected entities to cooperate with it in conducting the audit.
"I must state here that this exercise is not to witch-hunt anyone but an important exercise to assist the federal, state and local governments to establish the basis for allocation and disbursement of extractive industries revenues with a view to ensuring that these revenues are prudently utilised to address the welfare and developmental needs of Nigerians especially at this time," Ahmed said.
"We are mindful of the challenges that we will face but NEITI, being a multi-stakeholder mechanism and the nature of the NEITI process itself, is what gives us the courage to embark on this which is clearly required by the law and we are going to be asking for support from the media and civil society. It is about reporting facts as they are and gaps that could be improved upon, we are going to use a lot persuasion because we cannot coerce the governments," she added.
Accordingly, the nine-month duration audit exercise will seek to establish "who gets what and how they get" funds accrued to the federation account from the oil and gas sector. The federal government and some of its agencies, states such as Bayelsa, Cross-rivers, Rivers, Edo, Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Ondo, Abia and Imo as well as their local governments, will majorly come under the searchlight of the audit.