Senate To Debate NEITI Report – Saraki

Senate President Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday said that the Senate would debate the 2013 Audit Report of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in view of the mind boggling revelations of mismanagement contained therein.

Saraki disclosed this when the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Waziri Adio led the management of the transparency body to present a copy of its 2013 Audit report to the Senate President. He lauded the NEITI boss for the approach to formally present the report to the Senate apart from sending the report to the relevant committees.

“I agree with you entirely that this type of opportunity also enables us to strengthen the institutions such as yours that have the responsibility of improving the governance and transparency administration of the management of our resources,” Saraki said, according to a statement in Abuja by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu.

“In preparation for this courtesy call, I studied the report in the early hours of this morning, and honestly I was just dumbfounded about the figures that we are talking about.

“This is just 2013, one year’s report. It is not cumulative. In one year’s audit report you are talking about figures of over $3.8billion at that time I am sure the rate was close to N150 per dollar. So you are talking about N650billion. Then you are talking about another N358billion which brings it close to about N1trillion.

“Then you are talking about assets that were undervalued and transferred to NPDC but still no payment was made. You are talking about NAPIMS paying cash calls for an asset that doesn’t belong anymore to NNPC and you truly wonder that this is going on right under our nose here in this country.

“Honestly, I just concluded that as a country I don’t think we are serious. We are just paying lip service to this issue of fighting corruption because this is the real terminology of economic sabotage.

“This is what I believe agencies that are truly fighting corruption should have taken up. Meanwhile you see them sometimes chasing a Local Government Chairman for N10million or chasing even the State Governments for less amounts.

“These are just astronomical figures and nobody is being asked where the authority came from. Even if you say it was a minister, do we have where managements of those organizations have been able to say this is not what should be done?

“There are people who are responsible in management to advise on what should be done. And these people am sure are just walking the streets up and down without anybody asking them any question. It is incredible.

“Honestly, we must begin to do something about this because unless we do that we are just wasting our time. We are just chasing areas that maybe catch news headlines but they don’t have any effect.

“So to me and on our own part in this Senate, what I am going to assure you is that apart from getting the report, I have already told my office ‘let’s get the report, we circulate it to all members of the Senate’ and I promise you we are going to have a plenary session on it. And the day we are going to have it, it is going to be live on television. Let us discuss it. It is serious!

“I mean look at the figures they are talking about? And like you rightly said, you will just publish it and it will go and nobody will say anything about it? What is the ICPC doing? What is the EFCC doing? This is what is killing this country.

“But I can assure you that under this 8th Senate, these kind of reports are not going to die without anybody doing something about it. We will shout until something is done because there must be responsibility of those who are professionals that should advise political leaders of these positions,” he said.

The Senate President further added that there is the need to talk about laws to strengthen agencies like NEITI because of the type of responsibility they are saddled with. He further urged the agency to fast-rack the preparation of the 2014 and 2015 reports so as to make them public in good time.