Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has insisted that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has no right to retain $10.8 billion revenue, saying it has contributed to a drop in savings and exposes the nation to possible price shocks.
Sanusi said in an interview with Blomberg on Wednesday that given where the oil price was, Nigeria should have more in terms of reserves and savings, “and because we don’t have that we are susceptible to shocks in the event of a decline in the oil price.”
A letter Sanusi wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan alleging that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had withheld $49.8 billion in revenue sparked a public outcry when it was leaked to local newspapers last month.
Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told reporters on December 18, 2013 that a reconciliation of the accounts showed unaccounted oil receipts stood at $10.8 billion.
“No one has the right to retain money that should have gone to the federation account, so the fact that you have admitted retaining, or withholding $10 billion is itself bad enough.
“This money was supposed to come in and if it came in, it would be part of our reserves and part of our excess crude savings,” Sanusi said.
Bernard Otti, the NNPC’s group executive director of finance and accounts, said on January 10, 2014 that the $10.8 billion was spent on pipeline repairs, fuel subsidies and reserve fuel.
The lack of accounting in oil revenues has increased pressure on Jonathan as he faces defection from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former President Olusegun Obasanjo criticising him for failing to tackle corruption.
Media reports have alleged that Jonathan told Sanusi to resign because he allegedly leaked his letter about the NNPC to Obasanjo.
Sanusi, who obviously doesnot plan to renew his contract as governor of CBN when it expires in June, said there was no request from Jonathan for him to resign.
Nigeria’s gross reserves have fallen 11 per cent from last year’s peak of $48.85 billion in May.
The excess crude account, which holds the savings of the nation, dropped to $5 billion from $9 billion at the beginning of the year, Okonjo-Iweala said in October.
“Lower savings are not explained by a huge increase in government spending, because there wasn’t between 2013 and 2012..
“So if spending didn’t increase much and if the oil price didn’t crash much and exports didn’t crash much, there’s a leakage,” Sanusi said.
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