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NNPC, marketers inflated imported petrol figures under Buhari, Jonathan – Sanusi

When global oil prices rose under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and under President Muhammadu Buhari’s, former CBN Governor Lamido Sanusi said that Nigeria’s petrol import data were overstated (retd.)

Sanusi, who spoke at the 27th National Economic Summit in Abuja on Tuesday, blamed the exaggerated figures on the petrol subsidy.

Private marketers imported petroeleum and received government subsidy claims to keep the pump price lower than the predicted open market price of the commodity until May 2016, when the Federal Government established a new pricing band of N135 to N145 per litre of petrol.

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s main petrol importer in recent years, has borne the subsidy costs. It imports goods using a system known as Direct Purchase Direct Sale.

Selected foreign refiners, trading firms and indigenous firms are allotted crude supplies under the DSDP plan in exchange for delivering to the NNPC an equal amount of petrol and other refined goods.

Sanusi said,

“I have said this over and over again, and when I say this, I want it to be clear that I said this when I was governor of the central bank under the previous government. What I say is not about a particular government.

“In 2015 or 2016, Minister Kachikwu came out and said Nigeria was importing 30 million litres of fuel a day after eliminating corruption and having transparency. In 2019, the NNPC came out and said we were importing 59 million litres per day after oil prices have gone up. And I have been asking the question: what happened between 2015 and 2019 that our consumption doubled?

“This was the same thing that happened under the previous government; in Nigeria, when the oil price goes up – unlike all other products when it gets more expensive, you have a reduction in demand – the NNPC says we are importing more. Why because as the price of oil goes up, the arbitrage between the subsidised price and the market price is so high; there is an incentive to inflate those numbers.”

According to the NNPC’s most recent monthly report posted on its website, the company provided 55.79 million liters of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) each day in April, or 1.67 billion liters.

Sanusi said,

“I have produced evidence before the National Assembly historically of cases where the NNPC would say we have imported fuel, use the name of a vessel – people say they imported fuel; you go and check and the vessel was nowhere near Nigeria on the day they said it was in Lagos, and people have collected subsidy on those things.

“For me, all the drawbacks of this regime, what it is costing Nigeria is not just the cost of subsidy; it is the cost of the corruption. What we need to do is to scrap it.”

The ex-CBN boss added,

“This money coming from petroleum belongs to the federation account; the Federal Government does not have the constitutional right to pay subsidy on behalf of the federation.

“So, that is a fundamental constitutional issue because this is money that should go to the federal, state and local governments. Yet money that belongs to the federation is carried out as a central government expenditure. So, you can see so many complex issues – there are legal and economic issues. What we need to do is stop this thing.”

What do you think?

Written by Babatunde Okerayi

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