Buhari to appoint self as Petroleum Minister

Buhari to appoint self as
Petroleum Minister

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President Muhammadu Buhari is likely to keep
the oil portfolio for himself in the new Nigerian
cabinet, rather than trust anyone else with the
source of most of Nigeria ’ s revenue and
traditional fount of corruption, associates say .
Nigeria ’ s oil sector is so dirty that nobody’ s
hands are clean enough to do the “surgical
changes ” needed , one long- standing associate
told Reuters on condition of anonymity
because the cabinet decision is still under
wraps.
Another political associate said : “He will do it .
It would be stupid to give that position to
anyone else. ”
The first source said Buhari has still not settled
on his cabinet and has laughed off media
speculation about figures he will appoint, joking
with friends as he read out a newspaper article
that mentioned possible names: “They have
picked my ministers for me! Have I even told
you who I want?”
A former general who ruled Nigeria 30 years
ago, Buhari has extensive knowledge of the oil
sector , having been head of the Petroleum
Trust Fund under military ruler Sani Abacha in
the 1990 s and oil minister in the 1970 s under
Olusegun Obasanjo.
He was voted in by Nigerians on an anti –
corruption platform after years in which graft
appeared to worsen under the leadership of his
predecessor Goodluck Jonathan .
Buhari sent a list of 15 special advisors to the
outgoing national assembly for approval on
Tuesday, but the cabinet is unlikely to be
publicly revealed until the end of July or early
August.
The senate, which must confirm the cabinet,
will convene only briefly on June 9 before its
members are expected to go on recess for up
to six weeks .
“It ’ s going to be a lean government, I doubt
he ’ ll have 42 ministries like Jonathan but he
must have at least 36 ( for the number of
states ) as prescribed by the constitution ,
though it does not specify whether they have
to be senior or junior ,” an advisor in the ruling
APC party told Reuters .
The new administration had not yet gone
through reports on Jonathan’ s handover notes
on policy , the advisor said .
“There is a huge body of proposals being
bandied around the place , ” the advisor said ,
adding that nothing beyond broad strokes had
been outlined .
TASK AHEAD IN THE OIL SECTOR
Jonathan has left Buhari with a cash – strapped
government, with a rainy -day fund so depleted
that it must borrow just to cover salaries .
The government relies on oil sales for the bulk
of its revenues but there has been little
oversight on how these are handled . Former
central bank governor Lamido Sanusi was
sacked under Jonathan after he declared that
some $ 20 billion in oil revenues were missing
between 2012 and 2013 .
The dealings inside the state owned company
NNPC are so opaque that
PriceWaterhouseCoopers, commissioned to do
a forensic audit over the missing funds, said it
was unable to obtain enough account
documentation .
Not only is oil money stolen through
accounting gymnastics and oversight gaps, but
oil itself goes missing at unmetered oilfield well
heads , pipeline taps and export terminals.
Pipeline protection and coastal inspection
contracts have been given to ex -militants of
the oil – producing delta who kidnapped foreign
oil workers and blew up key infrastructure until
a 2009 amnesty . Buhari plans to let the 60
billion naira -a -year amnesty program end in
December as scheduled to save money and it
is unclear what he will fund in its place .
The new leader has also made clear that he
wants to revamp Nigeria ’ s refining sector ,
which declined while the country became
dependent on imports for fuel.
“He’ s emotionally attached to the refineries
because he built some of them . He wants them
to start functioning again , ” the APC source
said .
Culled from REUTERS

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