The attention of Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative (CWAI) has been drawn to the recent unearthed over $50 billion fraud in the Hydrocarbon industry in the report submitted by Dr. Ikechukwu Ani to the Federal Government of Nigeria through two instrumentalities-the Ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives on Investigation of Revenue Leakages and all activities of the Department of Petroleum Resources and by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property of the Federal Government of Nigeria. CWAI has sprung into action to get to the root of the monumental fraud and the different roles played by the oil giants, including regulatory enforcement agencies within the oil industry as to their culpability in the massive endemic corruption that has pervaded the socio-economic fabric of the Nation.
Governments over the years have worked assiduously to broaden the national revenue base and as such enacted the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) by Act CAP 47 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, which empowers NIWA to amongst other roles; generate revenue through levying of crossing tariff on pipelines in our Inland waterways.
CWAI has critically examined and after a thorough scrutiny of the documents, sworn affidavit and the query issued to the management of NIWA by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation(AGF) on financial infraction and under reporting of its regulatory functions of major Oil and Gas organisations using its waterways for the crossing of its pipelines and as champions of transparency, accountability and good governance in public service and the total wellbeing of Nigerians, decided to issue the following statement.
1. As champions of transparency and accountability in public service, CWAI went into investigations of this public outcry and discovered that the allegations of financial infractions, un-remitted funds and under-reporting against the management of NIWA over the stipulated years was true as a query has been issued from the Attorney General’s office to the management of NIWA.
For the records, the Act establishing the NIWA empowers it to charge Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) rate per annum for every pipeline crossing, Six hundred thousand Naira (N600,000.00) for inspection fee per pipeline crossing and Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000.00) administrative charge per pipeline considering the fact that majority of the oil stakeholders have over one thousand pipelines crossing just for an area alone not to about the square metres or state locations of their pipelines.
However till date, evidently through deliberate conspiracy, collaborations, connivance, misappropriations, concealments, embezzlements and unremitted payments covering twelve years have been stolen by licensed operators in the hydrocarbon economic sector. Consequently, the thousands of pipelines owned by Oil and Gas companies in Nigeria, crossing our inland waterways, is rather saddening that NIWA’s contribution through statutory collections to national revenue is not commensurate to the expectations of Nigerians as available records show.
2. As part of the recovery process, NIWA’s management should as a matter of urgency let the nation know how much have been recovered for the past twelve years and inform Nigerians of unremitted pipelines laying, crossing rates, dues and fees paid to date by the major Oil and Gas companies operating in Nigeria in furtherance to and in compliance with the 2007 edition of tariff as issued NIWA including the annual monitoring fees as well as annual rates as it were.
It is worthy of note that the accrued amount to Nigeria from the regulatory functions of NIWA is enough to fund the 2019 recurrent and capital expenditures of the Nigerian budget that NIWA’s management deliberately or by commission or omission, under-reported its regulatory functions from 2012 to 2018 as most of these alleged funds were either stolen or diverted for personal use by the management of NIWA.
3. That most major oil companies operating in Nigeria are subject to supervision and oversight of the Department of Petroleum Resources(DPR) and National Inland Waterways Authority(NIWA) has consistently failed to abide in compliance to the extant Laws of Royalty taxations, pipeline laying/crossing tariff as revised edition 2007 as issued by NIWA, crude oil revenue royalty taxes, deep water and inland water basin drilling Laws of 1969 , had defaulted on pipeline laying/crossing tariff remittances from year 2007 to December 31, 2017, at five million Naira yearly including annual inspection and monitoring fees totalling about Three Hundred and Eighty Billion Naira.
We therefore, hold DPR and NIWA culpable for not enforcing its regulatory functions as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As most joint venture partnerships, production sharing contracts, joint operations agreements and even sole contract and serviced contract holders with assigned subsidiaries are dubious arrangements/ways of evading tariffs and Royalties by these oil companies to the Nigerian government.
4. We make bold to say, that we have carried out due diligence and a thorough investigation that up to date, no available Ministerial exemptions or waivers is known or made known nor any court order made by any court of competent jurisdiction served on NIWA or conveyed by NIWA to any oil management in the country. Hence, extant statutes, tariff remains applicable to these oil companies still operating in the country. That designated officials consistently compromised and received favours and occasionally omitted and or committed if not derelictions on their duties and functions as it were during the period under review at NIWA.
As an advocacy organ, we therefore, pass a vote of no confidence on the management of NIWA for having failed for the umpteenth time, in their regulatory functions as a revenue generating agency of government and as such the management should be compelled to compute all relevant tariffs, payments remitted to the DPR and CBN on pipeline crossings for the past twelve years till date, while this is on the management, including the new board, should be brought to speed of what has transpired over the years by the management.
5. Ordinarily and logically, CWAI as a frontline anti-corruption activist in Nigeria finds it bizarre, baffling and shocking in broad day light, that the management of NIWA is still holding sway while billions of Nigerians commonwealth is being stolen by few power mongers in the Hydro-carbon industry and nothing in being done to stop or bring them to face the wrath of the Law. “We are watching”.
Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele Comr. Godwin Okafor, fcim
Executive Secretary, CWAI Dir. Transparency and Good Governance Practice.