President Jonathan struggling to explain enormous hole in oil funds

As reported by theoilandgasworld last week, the Nigerian central bank revealed that Nigeria’s state-energy company NNPC has not account for nearly $50 billion in revenue from the sale of crude oil.

The central bank’s discovery follows allegations and investigations that have fed a public perception of a government presiding over gross mismanagement of the oil industry on which state finances in Africa’s second-largest economy depend, the Financial Times reports.

The political fallout since the revelation has been predictably melodramatic. Lamido Sanusi, whose letter detailing the enormous shortfall in President Jonathan was leaked to the media, is the fiercely independent government of the Nigeria’s central bank. He has come under pressure as critics, both from inside the government and outside, have accused in of ‘politicising’ the numbers in his letter.

This week, the president’s spokesperson threatened treason charges in response to opposition politicians, who have urged member of the ruling party to initiate impeachment proceedings against Jonathan.

Efforts to reconcile the figures could well influence the fate of his administration in the run-up to 2015 elections. Nigeria, Africa’s leading oil producer, is heading into an election year with its currency under pressure, its budget stretched and with windfall earnings from soaring oil prices largely depleted. Any significant drop in the world oil price on top of this would certainly cause a shock and not just to the economy but also to the political system.

For an in-depth analysis of the disputed figures, see: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8661d910-6665-11e3-aa10-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2nutuBcZn

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