In a move towards greater transparency and accountability, President Bola Tinubu has instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to take charge of crude oil sales, shifting the responsibility from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
Under the new directive, NNPC will now submit receipts for crude oil sales to the CBN for thorough vetting and documentation. This change aims to ensure a more transparent process, as NNPC has historically maintained sole control over crude oil sales, providing limited accountability to the Federal Government.
Insiders at the CBN have confirmed this development, highlighting that receipts for oil sales will now be forwarded directly to the apex bank with immediate effect.
The previous arrangement, where NNPC had full control over crude oil sales and decided the amount it reported to the Federal Government, is seen by many as opaque and no longer tenable. The decline in oil revenue due to factors like lower production from crude theft and other illicit practices has necessitated this shift in handling crude oil sales.
Notably, former Vice President and PDP Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, recently raised concerns about the lack of transparency, specifically questioning the details of crude oil sales that would be used to retire a recent $3.3 billion loan from the Afri-Exim Bank.
This new arrangement is expected to plug any gaps in the crude oil sales process, ensuring that all receipts are accurately declared. CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, emphasized the collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and NNPCL, stating that it aims to ensure that all foreign inflows are returned to the Central Bank.
Cardoso, while addressing the launch of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) “2024 Macroeconomic Outlook Report,” expressed confidence that the reforms would lead to a stable exchange rate, fostering transparency and reducing opportunities for arbitrage. He also highlighted the comprehensive strategy in place to improve liquidity in the foreign exchange markets in the short, medium, and long term.
The move to centralize the oversight of crude oil sales aligns with President Tinubu’s commitment to enhancing governance and accountability in the country’s economic sectors.