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PwC forensic audit takes centre stage in Nigeria’s general election

PwC has submitted its forensic audit report into billions of dollars of allegedly missing oil revenues by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Federation Account, a little over a week before the country's general election.

In February of last year, former governor of Nigeria's central bank, Lamido Sanusi, told a senate committee that $20bn of the $67bn of oil sold between 2012 and 2013 had not been accounted for by NNPC, which prompted his suspension.

PwC was appointed by Nigeria's federal government to look into the matter in March 2014 and has now submitted its reports to the country's president Goodluck Jonathan and Nigeria auditor general Samuel Ukura.

With the general election scheduled on 14 February, PwC's report has suddenly become an important piece of the Nigerian political rhetoric.

Upon receiving the report, president Jonathan said the auditor general had one week to look through it and present highlights to the public (on Friday the 6 February). But the opposition party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), wants the whole report made public rather than just highlights.

When asked by International Accounting Bulletin why the government which asked for the audit in the first place wouldn't wish to make it public, Business Intellectual Reserves managing partner Badajide Ibironke says that it is possible some of the names implicated in the report are high profile people in Nigeria who fund the president's re-election campaign.

"By publishing a summary or only key facts they can pick and choose which ever information is beneficiary to the government," he explained. "The truth is that at the moment no one knows what is in the report apart from the president, the auditor general and PwC, so there is a lot of speculation and expectation on what is going to come out of it."

However, some have argued that the report won't bring much clarity into the matter, as the audit's term of reference were to narrow. "That's true, the terms of reference were not as wide as we would have expected and it will leave aside a lot of the issues that need clarity," Ibironke said. "But it is better to have something rather than nothing, so we are all waiting for what the auditor general will say."

At the time of publication, PwC Nigeria had not responded to IAB's request for comment, but PwC Nigeria senior partner Uyi Akpata was quoted in local media saying that the report would go a long way in bringing to an end the controversy over allegations on stolen funds in NNPC.

In a country plagued by corruption, ranking number 136 out of 177 in the Transparency International Corruption Index in 2014, what comes out of the auditor general's highlights might have a profound impact on the outcome of the upcoming election.

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