London — Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will name himself as the country's new oil minister, his aides confirmed Wednesday, as he seeks to clear the corruption web in the country's mainstay economic sector.
Receive daily email alerts, subscriber notes & personalize your experience.Register Now
President Buhari will "appoint a junior minister in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources" when he unveils the list of his cabinet later Wednesday, a presidential aide said.
"The president has already made this [oil portfolio] known when he addressed the media in New York after addressing a Global Leaders' Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism," the aide said.
Buhari is keeping the oil portfolio to himself at a time when Nigeria's oil industry is said to be plagued by corruption, massive fraud and crude oil theft.
Nigeria has the capacity to produce around 3.2 million b/d of crude, but output has remained below 2 million b/d due to a combination of large-scale theft and the sabotage of production facilities.
The president in late July said Nigeria was losing about 250,000 b/d of its oil production to theft by organized criminal gangs involving top officials in the previous administration, and has vowed to trace accounts where the money from exports of the stolen crude was deposited and prosecute the culprits.
CLEAN UP OF NNPC
Buhari, who has been in New York for the 70th General Assembly of the UN since Thursday, said Sunday that one of his objectives has been to fully sanitize Nigeria's oil industry and totally rid it of corruption and shady deals.
Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said in a statement that "a necessary first step in this direction" had already been taken, with the "appointment of a new management for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsequent reorganization."
Adesina said the prosecution of those who had misappropriated the NNPC's revenue under past administrations will soon commence.
Buhari, elected in March on the back of his tough anti-corruption position, has put cleaning up the oil sector, which generates around 80% of Nigeria's foreign exchange revenue, and tackling corruption in NNPC, at the very top of his agenda.
The clean-up, especially at state oil firm NNPC, has already begun, with Buhari ordering the cancellation of crude swap for oil products deals and offshore processing agreements with traders.
In early August, Buhari brought in former ExxonMobil executive Emmanuel Kachikwu as the group managing director of NNPC to oversee a major overhaul.
The appointment of the former US company official has been considered a major step in the right direction as Buhari looks to improve the company's governance.
With Buhari's approval, Kachikwu immediately dismissed all of NNPC's executive directors and reduced the directorates from eight to four.
Kachikwu also re-deployed the company's head of crude oil marketing, Gbenga Olu Komolafe, and appointed Mele Kyari as head of crude oil marketing.
NNPC has also been involved in various corruption scandals, including the well-publicized "loss" of $20 billion in oil export revenues and its failure to remit $11.6 billion in dividends earned from LNG exports.
NNPC is also currently under investigation for alleged irregularities with its crude for oil product swap contracts and offshore processing agreements that may have cost the West African country millions of dollars in lost revenue and refined product supply.