This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: PWC, Auditor General Need 16 Weeks to Account for Oil Revenue

Photo: The Vanguard
Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF) will need 12 to 16 weeks to "clarify" what happened to the unaccounted for billions of dollars of oil revenue, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said.

According to Bloomberg, Okonjo-Iweala announced this when she served as a panelist in a discussion on the topic: "Africa Rising" at the ongoing 24th World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) in Abuja.

PWC, based in New York, will help the federal government to unravel the crude proceeds probably not accounted for, she told delegates yesterday at the forum.

Suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who said there were missing funds, was suspended for alleged "financial recklessness and misconduct", Jonathan's spokesman Reuben Abati said in a February 20 statement.

He was replaced by his deputy, Sarah Alade, as acting governor. The announcement halted bond trading and sent the naira to a record low.

Sanusi wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan late last year alleging that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had retained almost $49.8 billion in revenue that was due to the government.

He later amended the figure to $12 billion at a news briefing with the finance minister before raising it to $20 billion at a February 4 meeting with the Senate Committee on Finance. NNPC has denied the allegations.

Okonjo-Iweala said the federal government had directed the AGF and PWC to undertake the forensic audit of the unaccounted for $20 billion oil money. Okonjo-Iweala revealed that the exercise, which started last week, would be carried out within a period of 16 weeks.

According to her, "The auditors are to assist in unraveling the mysteries surrounding the unaccounted $20 billion. "The issue of holding government to account, I don't think Nigerians are lying back. We need that transparency and we welcome it.

"The (suspended) CBN governor raised issues on unaccounted amount from the federation account. We at the Ministry of Finance have for two years been reconciling these figures with the NNPC to know what they are supposed to remit to the Federation Account.

"Our feeling is that the only way is to have a forensic audit that would let Nigerians know the truth on the issue.

"There is a forensic audit that the government has approved, and it is being done by PWC under the supervision of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

"The auditors said they need 12 to 16 weeks to do that, and all these would be clarified." On poverty and inclusive growth, Okonjo-Iweala said the nature of economic growth on the African continent had not been inclusive enough, adding that more needed to be done to change the quality of economic growth.

"It is obvious that the quality of our growth is not good enough because we are rising with inequality and without creating jobs for our people.

"We need to get people to go into farming through 'Nagroprenuers' where 750,000 youths would be encouraged to go into agriculture.

"Africans want decent jobs and we should admit that we have those at the bottom who can't get decent jobs, so we need to create social safety nets to take care of this. "We also need to look at building skills for our young people," she said.

The minister added that the federal government was working hard to address the issue of infrastructure, saying that a development finance institution would be unveiled before the end of the year.

The institution, she said, would provide long term funding of up to seven to 15 years to address the developmental needs of the country.

Yesterday, a minute's silence was observed at the various meetings of WEFA to support effort at rescuing the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.

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