Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Waziri Adio, on Tuesday disclosed that the administrations of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan squandered over N70 trillion earned from sale of crude oil and gas between 1999 and 2014.
While Obasanjo was in office for eight years (1999-2007), his predecessors, Yar’Adua and Jonathan, were in office for three (2007-2010) and five years (2010-2015) respectively.
Mr. Adio, who made this known in his office when the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairsvisitedhim during an oversight function, warned that unless the country comes up with a prudent way of expenditure, it was likely to be in difficult times in years to come.
The NEITI boss noted that it was unfortunate that despite the huge earnings from sales of crude oil over the years, the country was unable to account for over $100 billion in the excess crude account.
He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to develop a saving culture that would ensure a slash on government’s spending.
He said: “Let me inform the committee that we discovered that between 1999 and 2014, the country spent over N70 trillion it received from oil and gas alone. That is a whole lot of money. What is sad is that it was spent without the country being able to show anything for it. I think it is quite unfortunate.
“For the sake of emphasis, however, I think if previous administrations had developed a culture for prudent management of resources, Nigeria ought to have over $100 billion saved in the excess crude account.
“So, going forward, it is necessary for government to think about saving a lot more, and do all it can as well to cut down on wasteful spending, if the nation must make progress”.
On the challenges confronting the agency, Adio told the committee that the country risked suspension from the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), if NEITI failed to complete its audit report by a given deadline, which comes up in December.
The NEITI boss lamented the paucity of funds in the agency due to late releases by the Ministry of Finance.
He blamed lack of funds for the inability of the agency to conclude work on its audit report to the EITI.
He noted that should Nigeria be suspended from the world body as a result of the agency’s failure to meet the December deadline, the development would be an embarrassment on the image and reputation of the country.
Earlier, Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC/Kaduna North), noted that the committee would require the effort of NEITI to close the communication gap between the agency and the upper chamber with a view to ensuring effective collaboration.
He said that NEITI is the second agency of government among others that has not received its capital releases adequately.