The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) led by governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi on Thursday called on the National Assembly to engage a credible foreign firm to carry out a comprehensive independent forensic audit of the alleged missing $49.8 billion (N8.5 trillion) from the Federation Account.
Their call for a probe into the purportedly missing sum, which represents about 76 per cent of the value of crude oil lifting between 2012 and July 2013, according to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lamido Sanusi Lamido, comes on the backdrop of the inability of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Federal Ministry of Finance, Petroleum Ministry, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and CBN to reconcile the books as $10.8 billion is still yet to be properly accounted for.
Reading the communiqué of the meeting held in Abuja that ended in the early hours of Thursday, Amaechi noted that declining state revenue being witnessed by the government is not unconnected with such financial diversions.
He said: “We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting today, at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge, Abuja, deliberated on a number of issues and resolved as follows: On the issue of the missing $49.8 billion (N8.5 Trillion) or equivalent of two years of the National Budget, there is no evidence that this amount was paid into the Federation Account or duly appropriated.
“We accordingly call on the National Assembly to institute a comprehensive independent forensic audit by an international reputable firm. We fear that the recent decline of State Revenues is not unconnected with the financial diversion”.
The Forum also maintained that the Federal Government is in breach of the Fiscal Responsibility Act by failing to consult with states before forwarding the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to the National Assembly.
It also noted that the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting has not held in the last four months.
Amaechi said: “In clear breach of the provision of Section 11, Part II of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 which requires the Federal Government to hold consultations with states before the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) is laid before the National Assembly; consultation with states on the MTEF and Fiscal Strategy Paper (2014-2016) did not hold.
“The National Economic Council (NEC) meeting where issues of this nature would have been discussed last held four months ago”.
The Forum also decried the recent violent attacks and killings that took place in Borno State and the attack on the father of Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State.
On attacks in River State, the Forum said: “We also condemn the flagrant violation of the rights of citizens to freely assemble in Rivers State by the Nigerian Police; the excessive use of force against unarmed citizens in the exercise of their fundamental rights and the shooting of Senator Magnus Abe.
“The financial irregularities relating to public accounting, the lack of compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, and the recent security breaches are not unconnected with the refusal of the Federal Government to convene meetings of statutory institutions created in the Constitution such as the National Economic Council (NEC), the Council of State, the Nigeria Police Council and meetings of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC). We urge a return to the path of constitutionalism”.