Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi may have stirred the hornet’s nest again with his insistence that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had no right to hold on to the balance of $10.8 billion being part of crude oil receipts between 2012 and July 2013, saying it has contributed to a drop in savings and exposes the nation to possible price shocks.
Sanusi, who made this known during the week in an interview with Bloomberg, said 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 last year alleging that the NNPC had withheld $49.8 billion in revenue led to widespread condemnation when it was leaked to the media last month.
Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had told reporters on December 18, 2013 that a reconciliation of the accounts showed that the unaccounted oil receipts stood at $10.8 billion.
But Sanusi insisted: “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”.
In its defense, Bernard Otti, the NNPC’s group executive director of finance and accounts, about a fortnight ago said that the $10.8 billion was spent on pipeline repairs, fuel subsidies and reserve fuel.
Following the purported leakage of Sanusi’s letter to the media, there were reports that Jonathan asked the CBN governor to resign prior to the end of his first tenure in June.
Sanusi, who obviously does not plan to renew his contract as governor of the apex bank, however, said there was no request from the president for him to resign.