Sanusi Lamido, a former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, has said petroleum import figures were inflated when prices of the product rose globally during the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan and current president Muhammadu Buhari.
He said this at the 27th National Economic Summit in Abuja.
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.”
A latest monthly report by NNPC said a total of 1.67 billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol), translating to 55.79 million litres per day were supplied in April.
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.”