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Revenue remittance: Atiku condemns CBN’s takeover of crude oil sales

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…Says action threatens operational efficiency of NNPC Ltd

Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 General elections and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has condemned the recent directive for Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to take over the responsibility for crude oil sales from Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.

In a statement on Thursday, the Former VP opined that the move threatens the operational efficiency of the NNPC Ltd which aims to compete globally.

Recall that President Bola Tinubu had ordered the CBN to take over the responsibility for crude oil sales from the NNPC Ltd in a bid to promote transparency and accountability.

The NNPC Ltd has over the years been accused of secrecy in disclosing its profits and remittances to the government coffers although the state owned company under Mele Kolo Kyari has improved in its transparency compared to previous administrations.

Describing the order by Tinubu as illegal, Atiku said, “Without prejudice to the possibility of any good that was intended in the decision of the Federal Government to make the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) take over the responsibility for crude oil sales proceeds from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), it must be clearly stated that the action is not legal in its application.

“Although, as usual, of the current administration, little has been communicated to the public about explaining details of the decision.

“According to what is publicly available, the President has issued a directive that henceforth, the NNPC Ltd would submit receipts for crude oil sales to CBN for vetting and documentation.

“Whatever may be the merit of the new arrangement, the presidential directive is a violation of the legal status of the NNPC Ltd.

“It is an arbitrary order capable of undermining the operational independence of the NNPC Ltd.”

He argued further that President Tinubu has wrested control of the finances of the oil company and donated it to the Federal Ministry of Finance and the CBN.

“By this order, Mr. President has wrested control of the finances of the NNPC Ltd and donated the same to the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“This is an unprecedented act, without any legal or ethical basis. It is also a violation of the principle of due process in public administration.

“State-owned enterprises are not subject to such arbitrary orders and have full control over their finances within the confines of their respective establishment laws.

“The NNPCL is a creation of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 (PIA), which was signed into law by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 16 August 2021.

“The PIA makes extensive provisions for the formation, structure, governance, and operation of the NNPC Ltd as an independent limited liability company in Sections 53 to 65 of the Act.

“The government must, therefore, respect the provisions of the law and allow the NNPC Ltd to run as an independent company based on sound commercial objectives and in line with international best practices and standard principles of corporate governance.

“Only then would the new NNPC Ltd grow into a formidable institution with track records, requisite technical and financial capacity, and readiness to operate in public space.

“Any attempt to undermine the operational independence of the NNPC Ltd will be a hindrance to any chances of attracting investments and attaining global relevance in the Petroleum Industry.

“Let it also be stated that the Central Bank Act 2007 does not confer on the Central Bank of Nigeria, any responsibility for vetting the transactions of, or formulating and maintaining the internal controls and internal audits in state-owned enterprises, public or private.

“The CBN should be allowed to perform its core functions as provided in the extant law.

“To enhance transparency and accountability in the operation of the NNPCL, its bank accounts for crude oil sales proceeds (for example at Morgan Stanley) and the entire crude sales conversion circle can be trailed by Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and CBN.

“Amongst other supportive measures to enhance transparency, the NNPC Ltd board members can be better selected and reconstituted to include, if desired, representatives of the CBN and NEITI.”

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