By Kemi Yesufu
Nigeria has spent $36.371billion on the importation of petroleum products, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has said.
The apex bank told the House of Representatives adhoc Committee investigating Refineries Turn Around Maintenance (TAM), that the expenditure has exerted undue pressure on the nation’s external reserve and induced the depreciation of the naira.
This disclosure comes as the committee gave the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), 24 hours to provide relevant information on the installed capacity, volume of crude supply and output, as well as the Turn Around Maintenance of the country’s four refineries.
Speaking before the panel on Monday, the CBN Director in charge of research, Mr Ganiyu Amao said the bank’s ability to intervene in the foreign exchange market with a view to stabilising the naira is usually curtailed by excessive outflow of foreign exchange.
“Data from the CBN show that from 2013 to 2017, a total of foreign exchange committed to imports in the country stood at $119.409billion, while the total foreign exchange committed to imports in the oil sector stood at $36.371billion, representing 13.5percent of all imports made by the country.
“It greatly exerts serious pressure on our external reserve and depreciates the value of our local currency”, he said.
Amao, while disclosing that domestic consumption rose from 4.5 million metric ton to 23.9million metric ton in 2013, and dropped to 2.6m Metric Ton in 2016, added that the CBN favours a policy that compels International Oil companies (IOCs) to refine at least half of the crude that they produce for domestic consumption.
Earlier, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which is at the centre of the probe drew condemnation from panel members for failing to provide relevant documents requested for by the probe panel.
The committee chairman, Rep. Dattin Garba Muhammad, expressed dismay over attempts by some stakeholders to frustrate the investigation by refusing to avail the committee of information needed to aid it’s job.
He said: “Only a few organisations and individuals have complied with the committee’s request for documents and memoranda as many are bent on frustrating the investigation to this regard”.
“The committee derives it’s authority to conduct this probe from the resolution referred to it in line with the provisions of the constitution. And this committee will not hesitate to invoke relevant provisions of our laws with a view to obtaining compliance from parties required to make inputs and providing information”, he said.
“This is a different committee in the sense that we have written to the President and Commander-in-Chief to give us audience in his capacity as the substantive minister of petroleum and again under whom these refineries were built. As I speak, he has written to us and graciously granted our request for the meeting, of which date would be communicated to us.
“So you can see that this is the first committee that would be inter-facing with the President in the course of an investigation”, Datti added.
Anibor Kragha, Chief Operating Officer Refineries had told members that the NNPC doesn’t really favour any further turn Around Maintenance, adding that it calls for a comprehensive rehabilitation.
He said more than 20billion (of unspecified denomination) had been spent on TAM, adding that while TAM is supposed take place every two years, many of the refineries have seen irregular maintenance.
The panel pointed out that it’s request for information on the installed capacity of all the refineries, volume of crude supplied to them, level of output and volume of products added to the local consumption requirement were not supplied by the NNPC.
While the chairman asked the NNPC to provide such information within one week, members such as Hons: Wole Oke (PDP, Osun), and Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), insisted on the urgency of the information, saying that 24hrs was enough for “a highly organised Corporation like the NNPC should be able to provide such info upon request”.