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Sunday, May 19, 2024

OPINION: El-Rufa’i, Sanusi and NNPCL: Between Fact and Fallacy

By Mide Dosu

It is not a co-incidence that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and Nasir El-Rufai are childhood friends and long-time allies who think and act alike as well as seem to have too many things in common.

They were contemporaries at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, where they graduated. Both were extremely brilliant students who have, over the decades, metamorphosed into first-rate intellectuals who are sweet-talkers, with rare gift of the garb that can hold any audience spellbound.

They are focused and very precise when attacking their opponents. Their critics, nevertheless, believe they have, over the years, deployed their wit for more negativity than for the common good.

Typically, El-Rufai, the controversy-loving Governor of Kaduna state, stood by his friend like the Rock of Gibraltar when he was deposed as Emir of Kano by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje for always seeking the headlines and making the Kano Establishment look bad in the public. We remember the similar manner he got himself into trouble as CBN Governor.

When these two men see cameras in front of them, they feel a certain kind of sensation in their bodies, some strange excitement that makes them want to say just anything about individuals and institutions and when they are ready to descend into the arena, they don’t care about the facts and authentic figures. They don’t bother to cross-check what they put out. They don’t even independently study the contexts of previous statements made by others. They just go ahead to sensationalise, exaggerate, mislead, misinform and hoodwink unsuspecting members of the public.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and the Federal Government are the latest victims of the duo’s headline-grabbing obsessions.

Here are the Fallacies: In his trademark, El-Rufai recently said that the NNPCL is a big problem to Nigeria and, unless it is completely sold, it is capable of bringing the country to its knees.

According to El Rufai “nothing has changed with the commercialisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company in July 2022. NNPC was Nigeria’s biggest problem and should be privatised.”

He further said, “this year, NNPC has not brought N20,000 to the Federation Account. We are living on taxes. It is PPTs, royalties, income tax and VAT that is keeping this country going because NNPC claims that subsidy has taken all the oil revenues.”

Not so long after this, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Vice Chairman, Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, also said the claim by the NNPCL that Nigeria consumes 66 million litres of fuel daily is simply “unbelievable.” He called for the unbundling of the NNPCL, declaring the national oil company as a money pit and not a “cash cow.”

Sanusi queried the supposed volume of Nigeria’s daily consumption of petrol adding that whoever the incoming President would be in 2023 would first need to do a high standard audit of every penny spent on the NNPC.

He said, “In 2019, officially we were importing 40 million litres per day. In 2022 officially, we are importing 66 million per day. In three years, we have increased our petrol consumption by 50%. It is impossible that Nigerians are consuming more fuel than Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire and others.”

GMD NNPCL, Mele Kyari

However, here are the facts, Contrary to El-Rufai’s wild and false claims:

NNPCL has, in reality, been remitting to FAAC, as the records from the organisation which are in public domain, show.

El-Rufai even contradicted himself in his desperation to pontificate over an issue he doesn’t have the full grasp. On one hand, he claimed NNPC is not remitting to FAAC and on the other hand, he claimed there has been an over reliance on Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT), royalty tax etc. But where are PPT and royalty taxes coming from?

Still on the revenue issues raised by El-Rufai – a careful study of the facts will convince the worst cynic that the Governor was unfair to the Mele Kyari-led organisation.

We are talking about an organisation whose profit after tax rose from N287bn in 2020 to N674bn in 2021! This undeniable fact was contained in the Group Audited Financial Statement of the oil firm for the year ended December 31, 2021.

Again, El-Rufai is asking for NNPCL to be completely sold when in fact it is already a semi-independent commercial entity by virtue of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) that was signed into law by the Minister of Petroleum, President Muhammadu Buhari. NNPC has been commercialised and unbundled and everyone can see the gains recorded in the sector since those changes were made.

Sanusi, on his part, chose to discuss the issues of daily consumption and subsidy in isolation as part of the intent to mischievously call a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

Firstly, NNPCL boss, Kyari, has challenged anyone with any other figure regarding the true daily consumption of fuel to come forward with it. He has also repeatedly said he will be ready for any external probe of the downstream sector with a view to unraveling the daily consumption figure.

Meanwhile, one interesting fact is that none of these naysayers has been able to come up with any contrary figure and beat his chest that this is the exact number of litres of fuel we consume daily. Everyone just wants to criticise Government officials for the purpose of cheap popularity.

Secondly, on the issue of subsidy payments, Sanusi didn’t talk about the issue of refineries which were left to rot away by previous Governments which is the reason we rely on importation of refined products.

But the present Federal Government is now doing what should have been done decades ago, fixing the refineries of which about N100 billion was spent on the rehabilitation in 2021.

The facilities under the NNPCL management include the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), Kaduna Refining Production Company (KRPC) and the Warri Refining Production Company (WRPC). The refineries have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels of oil per day. And when they are fixed, we will return to local refining and the issue of subsidy will be a thing of the past.

The Kyari-led NNPCL has achieved milestones and due credit must go to them. Fuel scarcity during the yuletide and other festivities were annual rituals until Kyari came and fixed that intractable problem.

In the area of transparency and accountability, no previous management comes close to this one.

While all his predecessors rejected the idea, Kyari was the first NNPC boss to allow a proper, comprehensive audit to be carried out on the NNPC books. The global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI) gave kudos to the NNPC for the unprecedented feat. The NNPCL has also been very consistent in publishing it’s monthly financial and operations reports and financial statements in line with the EITI Standard and Expectations for EITI supporting companies. This is also unprecedented in the history of the NNPC!

Nigerians have, of course, learnt not to take the duo of El-Rufai and Sanusi seriously on everything they say based on their track record in occasionally misleading their followers. When unsubstantiated claims are made to destroy critical state institutions, we must rise in defense of the truth which is a patriotic duty.

Mide Dosu wrote from Wuye District, Abuja.

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