Corporate secrecy in governance is affecting economy, says Osinbajo
• ‘FG lost N1.6tr to non-remittance of funds by agencies’
• ‘NNPC in N3.1 trillion deficit’
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that Nigeria is still grappling with the negative effect of the use of secrecy by officials in running the affairs of government. He said lack of transparency in the case of the award of OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd in 1998 was still fresh in the minds of many.
Osinbajo spoke yesterday in Jakarta, Indonesia, at a conference on beneficial ownership organised by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
The Vice President said the negative effect of how government officials awarded juicy contracts in the extractive industry, such as the incident of the Malabo Oil and Gas contract, is still a subject of criminal and civil proceedings.
He said: “It is not inconceivable that as we are busy trying to break down the walls of corporate secrecy, they are also busy erecting new ones. So, we have no illusion that they will not devise grand schemes to game the system. In fact, they will try.
“Our task is to make it more difficult for them to hide or disguise the identities of real owners of companies to the detriment of the larger society. As with freedom, the price of openness will always be eternal vigilance.”
He said while governments and citizens stand to benefit from increased revenues, better law enforcement in this area should improve citizens’ welfare as a result of more ownership transparency.
Osinbajo also said hidden corporate ownership poses real and present danger to most countries, especially the developing ones such as Nigeria.
The Vice President commended the United Kingdom, Norway, Netherlands and Denmark for leading the way in establishing public registers of the real, human owners of companies in their countries.
In another development, the Senate has said that the Federal Government lost N1.695 trillion between 2012 and 2016 because of the failure of revenue-generating agencies to remit generated funds to the national treasury.
The upper chamber also said that it had found out that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) operated a deficit account to the tune of N3.1 trillion within the period.
These revelations were contained in the report of the Senate ad-hoc committee that investigated the alleged abuse and non-remittance of funds by some revenue-generating agencies.
The report of the Solomon Olamilekan-led committee, received and slated for debate this week, showed that 26 agencies generated N21.9 trillion within the four years period.
According to the report, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) generated the highest revenue of N3.09 trillion.It also showed that the same CBN failed to remit N1.716 billion to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation within the period.
The Nigeria Customs Service which generated N335.8 billion failed to remit N83.96 billion which amounted to 25 per cent of what it generated.
The report also stated that while the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) generated N445.54 billion but could not remit N33.83 billion, the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), which raised N789.02 trillion, failed to remit N86.636 trillion to the national treasury.
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