Information emerging from the results of the external audit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has revealed that certain former administrations benefited unlawfully from funds owned by the Nigerian people and being held by the NNPC. However, most interesting amongst these allegations is the revelation about the purchase of a $14 million helicopter for the Presidency which was financed by the NNPC.
According to news agency Reuters which broke the exclusive story, $106 million was loaned to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and $124 million was loaned to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). Meanwhile, the finance ministry and NNPC declined to comment on the debts; and the presidency and oil ministry did not respond to requests for reaction.
However, an NNPC source has claimed that they “…are aware of many of these debts, obviously it isn’t an ideal situation.” But another statement, this time from Antony Goldman, a Nigeria oil expert at PM Consulting says, “It does highlight the extent to which NNPC has been drawn into the more opaque areas of government – and will give ammunition to those critics who say it has operated at least partly as a slush fund for government.”
Numerous earlier reports and audits have concluded that corruption has been rife within NNPC. For instance, last year, Transparency International and Revenue Watch ranked NNPC as one of the least transparent oil companies in the world. A parliamentary report in May uncovered a $6.8 billion fraud involving a government gasoline import subsidy, which is partly run by NNPC. That report said NNPC was accountable to no one. It said the company owed oil traders, including privately-held Trafigura TRAFG.UL, $3.5 billion in unpaid bills.