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.
The ministry contributes over 80 per cent of Nigeria’s revenue. Reuters quoted some close associates of the President as saying this on Tuesday.
One long-standing associate of Buhari, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the cabinet decision was still under wraps, said Nigeria’s oil sector was so dirty that nobody’s hands were clean enough to do the “surgical changes” needed.
Reuters also quoted another political associate as saying, “He will do it. It would be stupid to give that position to anyone else.”
Buhari has extensive knowledge of the oil sector, having been head of the Petroleum Trust Fund under an ex-military ruler, the late Gen. Sani Abacha, in the 1990s and oil minister in the 1970s under Olusegun Obasanjo.
Jonathan has left Buhari with a cash-strapped government, with a rainy-day fund so depleted that the government 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. A former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Lamido Sanusi, was sacked under Jonathan after he declared that some $20bn in oil revenues was missing between 2012 and 2013.