CBN decries politicisation of missing $49.8billion crude oil money

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed concern over the politicisation of the letter written by its governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to President Goodluck Jonathan notifying him of the non-remittance of $49.8 billion accruing from oil revenues into the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation over an 18-month period.

The CBN, in statement issued Thursday by its Director, Corporate Communications, Ugochukwu Okoroafor, said it would neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a letter, adding that it considered “any discussion by it on the alleged letter to be appropriate”.

The CBN’s statement coincided with the request by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), chaired by the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, to meet with the president over Sanusi’s letter and seek clarification on its content.

However, the central bank, in the statement, sought to provide clarifications on the matter, stating: “The CBN is statutorily mandated to establish price stability, protect the external value of our national currency, manage the external reserves of the federation and ensure the smooth functioning of our financial system, as well as provide advise to the president on economic matters.”

It pointed out that its capacity to perform its role effectively is strengthened or undermined by the extent to which the nation is able to increase foreign exchange earnings and savings from these earnings, thus boosting the Excess Crude Account (ECA), raising reserve levels, providing currency stability and moderating interest rates with limited risks to inflation and financial stability.
The CBN added that “in the performance of this role, it is natural for the CBN to be concerned at the low level of accretion to reserves and the ECA, inspite of strong international oil prices, especially as Nigeria’s performance is compared with oil producing economies.”
It stated that it was aware that this concern was shared by the president, Federal Ministry of Finance, state governors, legislators, economists, analysts and all stakeholders involved in managing the economy and discussions on how to address that matter are being held at the highest level of government.
“The CBN is aware that, on the instruction of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, the audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), has been directed to audit the revenues of NNPC,” it said.
It further held that the central bank was aware of a proposal to set up a technical team made up of representatives of the Ministry of Finance, NNPC and CBN to examine the sources of any revenue leakages and propose appropriate fiscal controls.
The central bank said it welcomed these initiatives, adding: “They represent a positive contribution to the process of improving the management of the economy, especially if they lead to greater oversight of the finance ministry over oil revenues and improvements in disclosure and transparency in the oil industry.”
The central bank observed that it recognised that there was an urgent need to review fiscal terms of sharing revenues between the federal government and oil companies to improve governance and transparency in the oil sector, which it added underscored the need to urgently pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
“The CBN will continue to use appropriate channels of communication in these matters and hereby assures all stakeholders in the country of its continued support in all efforts aimed at strengthening the Nigerian economy and reducing its vulnerability to shocks from the external sector,” it said.
It concluded by stating that it will not issue further statements on the unremitted revenues and urged the public to avoid unnecessary politicisation of a technical matter while awaiting the outcome of ongoing consultations and reviews.

The CBN’s statement notwithstanding, the NGF arose from its meeting in the early hours of yesterday expressing the need for the governors to meet with the president on Sanusi’s allegations.