NASS TO NNPC: A LOAN WITHOUT OUR APPROVAL MEANS WAR
LEGISREPORTS NG – The war is on between the National Assembly and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over the importunity of the NNPC to take a loan of $1.5 billion to offset its debts.
The NNPC responded to the warning by the National Assembly not to take the loan without its approval, saying that it does not require the National Assembly’s permission to consummate the transaction.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources, (Downstream), Senator Magnus Abe, said NNPC risks severe consequences if it ignores National Assembly’s warning on the loan.
Speaking at a news conference in Abuja, Senator Magnus Abe, Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) said all the relevant committees of the National Assembly met and took a position that the parliament must be properly briefed on the loan plan before it can proceed and if the National Assembly’s warning on the loan is ignored, the NNPC stands at a risk of severe consequences.
In Abe’s opinion, no corporation has the right to commit the country to any debt without the express approval of the parliament. “We are hearing that the NNPC is trying to take another loan of $1.5 billion to pay for existing debt and we have told them in clear terms that that transaction should not proceed without approval from the National Assembly. We don’t mind what kind of business entity that NNPC think they are, the debt of NNPC are invariably the debt of Nigeria so, nobody has the right to commit the country to that kind of indebtedness without the approval of parliament,” Abe said.
“This issue between the NNPC and the National Assembly, we have debated it publicly and privately, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is clear as to what the NNPC is. So to think that anybody can create a corporation that can drain the resources of the country without parliamentary oversight or approval is an illusion.”
“I dare NNPC to go ahead and commit this country to $1.5 billion without the approval of the parliament. It is not possible and we will not allow it. That argument has been overtaken by the Constitution of Nigeria. I t is clear in the constitution and the National Assembly will not allow it. If it means going to court, we will go to court.
“If they are going to commit this country to a debt of $1.5 billion by whatever means, they need to come and explain as elected representatives of Nigerian people how this debt was incurred, how it is going to be paid, and how it will not affect us. We must understand that before they can proceed.
“When people are doing something that is transparent, why should you be afraid of the National Assembly?”
“I am part of anything that makes Nigeria a better, more accountable and organized society.
“Nobody will say that what happens to oil can be a private business of anybody in this country. The economic life of Nigeria depends on what happens in NNPC so I don’t know how NNPC can think that Nigeria will allow them on their own to decide to do whatever they want to do and nobody can ask questions.”
“It will not happen. What happens in NNPC to that magnitude is the business of Nigeria and that is set up by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to protect the interest of Nigeria when it comes to financial and monetary matters are the National Assembly.”
He said the committees also resolved to write a letter to NNPC directing it not to proceed with the transaction without the National Assembly’s approval.
Reminded that top officials of NNPC are insisting that the corporation does not require any approval from the National Assembly to take any loan, Abe said the corporation must not test the will of the National Assembly.
This report was prepared by our reporter in Abuja.