State Governors are jostling to take whatever they could lay their hands on from the monthly remittances of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) to prosecute their respective political ambitions in the 2019 General Elections, reports have indicated.
Even though the governors under the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) have in the last couple of weeks come at the NNPC for reportedly failing to meet certain thresholds in its monthly revenue remittances to the FAAC, an investigation conducted within the ranks and files of the NGF and political circles in the country, revealed the governors have actually been on a war-path with the corporation because they want to get more money from it ahead of the 2019 elections.
Remittances from the NNPC to the FAAC have recently become contentious, in that, the governors through the NGF have accused the corporation of falling short in its remittance to the FAAC. The FAAC on the other hand has also not been able to conclusively hold because according to the governors, monies presented by the NNPC were inadequate for sharing between the different federating units.
The governors have claimed the NNPC had not remitted the amount of funds it was reportedly supposed to remit to the FAAC for sharing between the three tiers of government in the country. This, reportedly led to the postponement of the FAAC twice now, with the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, also reportedly stating that NNPC’s claims on cost of its operations were outrageous, unacceptable to FAAC and needed to be clarified.
However, the corporation in return alleged that the governors made requests on it to transfer an extra N40 billion for them to share in the FAAC, despite its remittance of N147 billion to the FAAC in the month under consideration for sharing by the three tiers of government.
NNPC equally noted that the extra request by the governors was against the terms of an agreement it had with them on the matter.
But in their responses to an investigation into the issue, top political actors in the country explained the whole fight could not be unconnected to the 2019 elections.
“There is a historical trend in this. Look back at 2014 when the former CBN governor, now an emir, accused the NNPC of not remitting enough or withholding funds from the federation account, and the governors coming after the corporation.
“This is not far from the 2019 elections. The governors want funds to prosecute their ambitions, and they want as much as they can get from the NNPC between now and the electioneering period,” said a top politician who spoke anonymously.
Another politician who is equally close to the NGF, explained the NGF was worried the NNPC could scuttle their respective political campaigns and thus chose this time to fight before it became too late to.
He stated albeit anonymously, that: “Some of my colleagues have ambition to go to the parliament, some are coming back for second term and they all need funds to prosecute their elections. The most secured funding source for them is the monthly remittance to the FAAC by the NNPC and they feel they need to press the corporation to remit more so they can augment their financial booty for the elections.”
Similarly, amongst the business class, the feeling have been that the 2019 elections could be fuelling the fight between the corporation and the NGF.
For instance, the Managing Director of the Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, explained in a Monday, 16th July Channels Television Business Program, that government’s expenditure within an election year were usually either wasted on electioneering or contracts that never really got implemented.
Rewane, though did not state this was the reason why the NNPC was at loggerheads with the NGF, he however suggested that governments and political actors spending within these periods have always been on items that could gain them political mileages and not necessarily for economic benefits. He added that revenue leakages and inflations were usually the hallmarks of these periods.
Also, the NNPC had condemned the stance of the governors on its revenue remittance to the FAAC, suggesting they were reluctant to pay the monthly salaries of their workers and so using claims that it had not remitted enough funds to excuse themselves of this obligation to their workers.
NNPC equally explained it was not the custodian of all oil revenues accruable to the country, but the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which it claimed has an account where such sales proceeds are deposited.