Representatives of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja returned home on Tuesday disappointed as the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting ended in confusion in Abuja amid disagreements over revenue figures presented by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The meeting, convened to consider and approve statutory revenue allocations for February, came to an abrupt end on a note almost becoming a familiar refrain for NNPC in recent times.
About an hour after the inconclusive meeting, the finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, announced it would continue on Wednesday morning. She also said she would hold a crucial meeting with the NNPC chief.
Last December, the FAAC meeting was equally stalemated, as members could not reconcile the revenue figures presented by the national oil company, which told a shocked nation at the height of a recent fuel crisis it spends N774 million daily to guarantee steady supply of petroleum products.
With a free pass granted the corporation to deduct as operational cost whatever expenses it incurs from fuel supply before remitting the balance to the Federation Account, close watchers of NNPC operations said Tuesday’s crisis was expected.
During the meeting, representatives of the states, consisting accountants-general and commissioners of finance, said it was their consensus not to approve the allocations to the three tiers of government for the month.
They described the discrepancies in revenue figures presented by the NNPC as a bad omen to workers in the country who may have to go without salary for the month until the issue is resolved.
The Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, who confirmed the development to reporters shortly after the meeting, at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Abuja, said a new schedule for the meeting would be communicated on a later date.
Mr Idris said the decision to postpone the meeting followed the discovery of “understated revenue” remitted by the NNPC into the Federation Account.
“We have just retired out of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee meeting for the month of March where we considered the revenue figures for the federation for the previous month of February.
“Let me be quick to tell you that the meeting was inconclusive, because issues around reconciliation of figures are on the table.
“Obviously, you are all aware that anything that has to do with federation revenue is statutory and therefore constitutional. And we must always verify our figures to the last kobo, failing which we will be committing illegality and unconstitutionality,” Mr Idris said.
He said following some issues observed in the revenue figures presented by the NNPC, the meeting had to be postponed until those figures were ”reconciled, corrected, verified and confirmed to be factual”.
Although he said members were very sensitive about the issue, they owed the people a constitutional duty to ensure the necessary laws guiding revenue distribution among the three tiers of government were followed to the latter.
He assured that revenue figures submitted by the NNPC would be reviewed and reconciled before sharing accordingly.
He said it was sad that civil servants and workers in the federal, state and local governments who expected to have their salaries and all other commitments from government would not be able to do as a result of the development.
He refused to disclose the level of under-remittance by the NNPC but said the committee would investigate and determine the figure.
“It’s not about the quantum or amount being distributed. It is about reconciliation of the figure presented.
“In finance and accounting, reconciliation means figures not agreeing as presented by different sections. Once figures do not agree, they must be made to agree.
“Unless we get to the bottom of it, have clarity and some level of certainty, we remain where we are,” he said.
The Chairman, Forum of FAAC Commissioners, Mahmoud Yunusa, said the resolution of its members was for NNPC to remit the revenue to the last kobo.
Mr Yunusa said the meeting began last week with NNPC not submitting their figures until Monday, making members not to be able to review until Tuesday morning.
He said when the figures presented by the NNPC were reviewed, members were surprised to observe the amount was less than N100 billion, which was promptly rejected.
The chairman, who is the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Finance, said the inability to approve the revenue for the month on time would affect the ability of governments at all levels to pay workers’ salaries ahead of the forthcoming Easter celebrations.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered from sources familiar with the records of remittances to the FAAC, that the NNPC had presented only N74.06 billion as revenue from its operations for February.
When compared with submissions for the previous month, the figure would be about N37.76 billion lower than the N111.83 billion remitted in January 2018.
Following Tuesday’s stalemate, the Minister of Finance and Chairman of the FAAC, Kemi Adeosun, has moved to douse the tension. She announced that the meeting would reconvene on Wednesday at 9.00 a.m.
The meeting, which will hold at the Auditorium of the Federal Ministry of Finance, will have in attendance the Accountant General of the Federation; Commissioners of Finance and Accountant-Generals of the 36 ztates and representatives of the NNPC, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Department of Petroleum Resources, among others.
The minister has also called for an emergency meeting next week with the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Maikanti Baru, and key management over revenue payment into the Federation Account.
The inconclusive nature of Tuesday’s FAAC meeting necessitated the intervention of the minister, a statement issued by the minister’s aide, Akintunde Oluyinka, said.