…As govs, NNPC GMD meet in Villa
Uche Usim, Abuja
For the second time in two months the meeting of the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) ended in deadlock in Abuja on Wednesday as members could not reach an amicable resolution of shortfalls and other discrepancies in remittance declared by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The development forced the state governors to hold an emergency meeting with the management of NNPC at the Presidential Villa to resolve the logjam.
It is however expected that yesterday’s stalemate would likely delay payment of April salaries of civil servants across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory as the April FAAC allocation will only be shared after a resolution of the meeting.
When Daily Sun got to the meeting venue at the Ministry of Finance, the States’ Commissioners of Finance were talking in hushed tones as they walked out of the session, forcing abrupt closure.
The Chairman of FAAC and Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, was not at the meeting as she was yet to return from Washington DC where she attended the recently concluded Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Yesterday’s adjournment was the second time in a sequence after a similar drama played out in March just before the Easter break.
The Chairman, Finance Commissioners’ Forum, Mallam Yunusa Mahmoud, who confirmed the FAAC postponement to journalists said the unfortunate development required governors’ intervention.
Mahmoud, who is the Commissioner of Finance for Adamawa State, said governors were holding a “high level meeting with top officials of NNPC on the matter in Abuja.
“We have some challenges. The figures we got are far less than what we expected to be remitted by NNPC. As it is now, there is a meeting between the governors and the top management of NNPC at the Villa. I believe this is a very high level deliberation and something good will come out of it,” he added. He said NNPC was duty bound to carry FAAC stakeholders along in its business, pointing out that any opaque dealing will naturally raise burning questions.
“There are processes. Before now, you don’t hear such news. Whatever issue you get, you deliberate on it, but because this government is a government of change, some level of transparency is expected.
“When you pick your figures and submit them, the person that is supposed to look at them and deliberate on them will ask questions if need be.”
On whether what NNPC had done does not amount to deliberate shortchanging of the government, Mahmoud said it would be too hasty to take such a position.
“I don’t want to use the word insincerity. What happened could be an error. If one party is wrong, the other party is right; if you add it together, at the end of the day, you make progress.
“Last FAAC meeting was postponed twice and at the end of the day, we made progress. That was during Easter break; in the spirit of Easter, we held a meeting. Even though we are looking at the plight of workers that were supposed to receive their salaries as and when due; based on the submission we have now, some states cannot pay salary now. What we are doing now is to table a lot of these. That is why the matters are in the highest level and are being discussed now,” Mahmoud explained.
Last month’s FAAC meeting was adjourned for 24 hours to enable proper reconciliation of NNPC’s account, after it was discovered that what it transferred into the federation account had a shortfall of N100 billion.