Former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Muhammadu Sanusi II, has demanded a proper audit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
This, the 14th Emir of Kano said would solve Nigeria’s persistent foreign exchange crisis.
Sanusi also kicked against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu playing the role of a petroleum minister.
He spoke Thursday in Abuja at the opening of the 2023 Bank Directors’ Summit with the theme: “Emerging Issues: Navigating the Complex Balance Between Regulation and Compliance”, which was organised by the Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN).
Sanusi said insisting on the probe of NNPCL allegedly cost him his job as the CBN governor, a position he held from June 2009 to February 2014.
According to him, NNPCL, the government’s major foreign exchange earner, is the sole solution to the country’s persistent forex exchange crisis.
“The exchange rate needs to be stabilised, and we must address the fundamental question: why is there no money coming in? Why is the NNPCL not able to bring in dollars? I am sorry, this is the question that cost me my job, and I will continue asking this question until NNPCL fixes it up or until I die. Where are the dollars? We need to shine a light on the NNPCL.
“We are no longer paying subsidies, so where are the dollars? It was under recovery during the subsidy era, and that has been stopped, so where is the money? This was the issue I raised for which I was suspended; well, you can suspend me again. The NNPCL is the most opaque oil company in the world. They have not been audited when I was in the Central Bank for 15 years,” he said.
He argued that appointing a substantive minister of petroleum would help check the excesses of NNPCL.
“By the way, let me advise you that the idea of the President becoming a petroleum minister is not a good one. The last President was the minister of Petroleum for eight years. When I was governor of the Central Bank, we had a minister of petroleum, so when I talked about the NNPCL, I could attack Diezani Madueke.
“Now, nobody can talk about Petroleum because for eight years, if you talk, you have been attacking the President. We need that buffer; somebody has to be there, so a minister who is held accountable by Nigerians has to be there,” he said.
President Bola Tinubu, who was represented at the summit by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, stated that funding of liquidity in the FX market though a short-term solution remained critical for the economy at the moment.
According to him, there’s “No reason to feel that the indications that were made earlier had changed”, adding, “It just takes time”.
Tinubu said it was only a matter of time before short, medium and long-term funds are mobilised across the spectrum.
He said, “Regulator must partner with industry to promote innovations that drive financial access, and banks have a duty to embed integrity and transparency into our culture and technology systems.”