The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, last Saturday said former President Olusegun Obasanjo left $65 billion in Nigeria’s excess crude account.
“When Obasanjo was leaving, he left about $65 billion dollars in the excess crude account, but this money was frittered away and we wonder where the money is,” the Minister of Transport said on the sidelines of the Future Awards in Lagos.
But is he correct?
In 2004, Mr. Obasanjo (in office from 1999-2007) set up the excess crude account to save oil revenues above the budget benchmark for crude oil price. The account belongs to all the three tiers of government and withdrawals can only be made when all the tiers agree.
Since then, excess crude earnings have been deposited in the account in dollars.
Details of how the three tiers of government shared from the excess crude account under Mr. Obasanjo are not immediately available, but around the time he left office, the account held less than $10 billion.
As at April 25, 2007, barely a month before Mr. Obasanjo left office, the excess crude savings stood at $9.5 billion, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
But upon inauguration which was followed by a global recession, the Yar’Adua administration was compelled to make withdrawals from the account to shore up the economy.
Both Yar’Adua and Jonathan administrations oversaw a series of withdrawals for sharing amongst the three tiers —with Mr. Jonathan leaving it at only $2.07 billion— but at no time in its 13-year history did the excess crude account rise to $65 billion.
Even the foreign reserves stood at about $43 billion when Mr. Obasanjo left office, according to the CBN in the link referenced above.
Similarly, crude oil did not sell at $140 per barrel under Mr. Jonathan. It only got that high under Mr. Yar’Adua before it started crashing in 2008, according to trading data.
Based on the data, the maximum oil sale in a day under President Jonathan was $113.39 on April 29, 2011. Mr. Jonathan was in office from May 2010 to May 2015.
Mr. Amaechi said Mr. Obasanjo left $65 billion that was later squandered by his successor(s).
PREMIUM TIMES reached out to his spokesperson, David Iyofor, for the source of his principal’s claim, but he did not respond.
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics does not keep data for the excess crude account, this leaves us with the CBN as the only government body to rely on.
And based on the records of the CBN, we rule the $65 billion figure given by Mr. Amaechi as false.