Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged that his government will launch a full-scale investigation into the alleged $20 billion in oil export revenue that is missing.
Speaking Monday night on a media chat that was broadcast live on state media, Jonathan debunked claims by opposition parties that the suspension of central bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi earlier this month was linked to the latter’s revelation that Nigeria National Petroleum Corp. had failed to remit the $20 billion in oil revenue into the Federation Account.
“That [$20 billion] is a lot of money, and I can’t preside over this nation and watch even one kobo go missing from the government treasury,” Jonathan said.
“I don’t even know the figure to believe as the missing money, whether it is $49.8 billion, $10 or $20 billion. But whatever, even if it is one dollar, we will find out. That I guarantee you,” said the president.
Sanusi had on February 3 submitted a memo to parliament showing that state-owned NNPC had failed to remit into the federation account, $20 billion of the $67 billion earned from crude sales between January 2012 and July 2013.
NNPC has repeatedly denied this, and posited that the money was used to offset costs incurred on fuel subsidies, repairing vandalized pipelines and the loss of potential revenue due to oil theft.
Both legislative chambers in Nigeria, the Senate and the House of Representatives, subsequently launched investigations into the allegation. These are ongoing. But Jonathan shocked the country when he suspended Sanusi on February 20.
On Sunday, Nigeria’s main opposition party, the All Progressive Party said Sanusi’s suspension was a ploy by the government to cover up the missing oil money.
Several previous investigations by parliament and the government have criticized NNPC of corruption and lacking transparency, but the government has shown a lack of political will to implement significant reform, analysts have said.
Oil accounts for more than 80% of Nigeria’s revenue. The country produces a little over 2 million b/d of crude.