President Muhammadu Buhari has dissolved the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in a move that is seen as a prelude to the probe of the organization.
The board dissolution is with immediate effect, according to the Director of Communications in the office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Haruna Imrana.
Imrana said in a terse statement in Abuja that “The directive to that effect was conveyed in a letter signe by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi.”
President Buhari thanked members of the dissolved board for their services to the nation.
The organisation is currently at the centre of a corruption scandal after the immediate past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and now the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Lamido Sanusi, alleged in late 2013 that the NNPC had failed to remit billions of dollars to the federation account.
He submitted documents on oil contracts, confidential government letters and private presidential correspondence, covering over 300 pages to the National Assembly to back up his claim.
Sanusi said at the time that NNPC’s failure to “remit foreign exchange to the Federation Account in a period of rising oil prices has made our management of exchange rates and price stability extremely difficult.”
He told the Senate inquiry that of the $67 billion worth of oil sales made by the NNPC over a period of 19 months, between $10.8 billion and $20 billion was unaccounted for.
The allegation was vehemently disputed by the Jonathan Administration with its Finance Minister,Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, dismissing it as unfounded.
The management of the NNPC itself said Sanusi’s allegation stemmed from his “misundertanding” of the workings of the oil industry.
Sanusi was subsequently queried and later suspended before he ascended the throne.
When the controversy refused to go away, former President Goodluck Jonathan ordered a forensic audit into the account of the corporation.
The forensic auditors, however, cleared the NNPC of wrongdoing, but came to the conclusion that the firm was owning government $1.48 billion for a separate shortfall.
Government asked the NNPC to pay the money forthwith into the federation account.
The money is yet to be paid.
Soon after his election as President in the March election, Buhari vowed to take another look at the “missing” $20billion.
Receiving a delegation from Adamawa State led by the state’s then governor-elect, Bindow Jibrilla, in Abuja, Buhari said: “His Royal Highness, the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was removed from the Central Bank because he said that about $20 billion was missing. Instead of investigating the matter, the government sacked him. As God will have it, he is now the Emir of Kano and that is exactly what he wants to be.
“He has already written a detailed report on it, and the incoming government will not ignore it. $20 billion is too big to ignore. This is Nigerian money and it must be investigated.”
The sacked board was constituted in July 2012 by former President Jonathan.
It was headed by the immediate past Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
Other members were: Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance; Group Managing Director, NNPC; Abdullahi Bukar, Steven Oronsaye, Olusegun Okunnu and Daniel Wadzani; Executive Director (GED), Finance & Accounts, Bernard Otti; and GED, Corporate Services, Peter Nmadu.