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Senate orders probe of $18bn NLNG dividend payment

The Senate has directed the Accountant- General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, to investigate the payment of the sum of $18,323,032,261.03 as dividend from investment in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited between 2004 and 2020. Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West), gave the directive following disclosures from NLNG officials during the five-day Senate Committees on Finance and National Planning consideration of the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).

The Accountant-General was mandated to investigate, among other things, if the amount was actually remitted to NNPC and how much was actually remitted to the Federation Account. Idris is also to find out if there was any deduction by NNPC, how much was deducted and who authorized the deductions and the exchange rates applied for the amount that was remitted over the period of 16 years under review. Mrs. Eyono Fatai-William, the General Manger (External Relations and Sustainable Development) of NLNG, had presented a financial summary of the company from 1999-2019, indicating that it had paid a dividend of over $18 billion to Nigeria from 2004-2019, stressing that NLNG was committed to a culture of transparency and integrity.

She also revealed that the NLNG had remitted $9 billion as tax to the Federal Government from 2011 to date, while $15 billion had also been remitted as payment of field gas to the NNPC since inception of the company. Fatai-William said that NLNG had also provided detailed year-by-year breakdown of the $18 billion paid to NNPC as Federal Government’s share of dividend in this manner; 2004, $278 million; 2005, $57.4 million; 2006, $332.9 million; 2007, $842.9 million; 2008, $2.6 billion and in 2009, $848.6 million.

“For 2010, NLNG paid $1.4 billion; 2011, $2.5 billion; 2012, $2.76 billion; 2013, $1.26 billion; 2014, $1.38 billion, while 2015 was $1.043 billion. “In 2016; $356 million; 2017, $798 million; 2018, $904 million; 2019, $915 million, while $279.5 million was remitted for 2020”, she said. However, when Senator Adeola asked the Accountant- General of the Federation if he could confirm the payment of the humongous dividends to the Federation Account, he said that it was difficult to determine with any certainty immediately, saying that the dividend was usually paid to NNPC, the representative of Nigeria in the company. The chairman, therefore, directed the Accountant- General to investigate the payment and report back to the Senate in two weeks. Nigeria through the NNPC has about 53% shareholding in Nigeria NLNG Limited.

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