The barrage of attacks on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) took a new twist last week when the Senate committee on Gas accused the oil agency of operating a ‘mystery’ budget, known only to it and not to the National Assembly.
Making the allegation at a public hearing at the National Assembly, the committee’s chairman, Senator Osita Izuanuso said it was illegal for the NNPC to be operating a budget that the legislature has not approved.
Consequently, the committee insisted that the 2009 budget of the NNPC must be brought before the legislature for approval.
"Nobody has seen NNPC budget. We want the Minister of Petroleum to bring NNPC budget. NNPC cannot be operating without an approved budget by the National Assembly”, Izuanuso declared.
According to the lawmaker, it was because the NNPC budget was not known to the National assembly that it could move one project for one agency to the other.
The committee had observed and accused the NNPC of tampering with the budget of the Ministry of Petroleum and cited example of 2008 appropriation bill where NNPC moved a project meant for the ministry to the NNPC.
However, rising in defence of the NNPC vis a vis the 2009 budget, the minister of state, Mr Odien Ajumogobia explained that between N10 billion and N19 billion had so far been released by the Federal Government.