The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has no right to retain $10.8 billion in income, stressing that the action has contributed to a drop in savings that’s left the nation exposed to possible price shocks.
“Given where the oil price is, we 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,” Sanusi said in an interview with Bloomberg.
A letter Sanusi wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan alleging the NNPC had withheld $49.8 billion in revenue sparked a public outcry when it was leaked to the media last December.
Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala however told newsmen on Dec. 18 that a reconciliation of the accounts showed unaccounted oil receipts stood at $10.8 billion.
But Sanusi, is insisting that “No one has the right to retain money that should have gone to the federation account, so the fact that you’ve admitted retaining, or withholding $10 billion is itself bad enough,” adding that “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.”
Bernard Otti, the NNPC’s group executive director of finance and accounts, said on Jan. 10 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 defections from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and former President Olusegun Obasanjo criticized him for failing to tackle corruption.
Nigeria’s gross earnings have fallen 11 per cent from last years peak of $48.85 billion in May. The excess crude account, which holds the savings the nation makes when the crude price is above the benchmark price estimated in the budget, dropped to under $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,” Sanusi said. “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.”