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Atiku Challenges President Tinubu’s Controversial Move: Accuses CBN of Overreach in NNPC’s Finances



Atiku Challenges President Tinubu's Controversial Move: Accuses CBN of Overreach in NNPC's Finances

Atiku Challenges President Tinubu’s Controversial Move: Accuses CBN of Overreach in NNPC’s Finances

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has raised a critical voice against President Bola Tinubu’s recent directive instructing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to assume control of crude oil sales proceeds from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL). Atiku, who is also the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate, slammed the move as illegal and a direct threat to the operational independence of the NNPCL.

In a strongly worded statement posted on his official Facebook page on Thursday, February 01, 2024, Atiku condemned President Tinubu’s directive, which mandates the NNPCL to submit receipts for crude oil sales to the CBN for vetting and documentation. He argued that such an order violates the legal status of the company and compromises its autonomy.

Atiku contended that President Tinubu’s move is arbitrary, jeopardizing the autonomy of the NNPCL by placing control of its finances in the hands of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the CBN. He criticized the action as lacking legal and ethical justification, pointing to a violation of due process in public administration.

The former Vice President emphasized the significance of adhering to the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 (PIA), which outlines extensive provisions for the formation, structure, governance, and operation of the NNPCL. Atiku stressed that the NNPCL, established as an independent limited liability company, must be allowed to operate according to the provisions of the law.

Sections 53 to 65 of the PIA, as highlighted by Atiku, provide a comprehensive framework for the NNPCL’s operation. He urged the need to respect the law, allowing the NNPCL to function independently based on sound commercial objectives, international best practices, and standard principles of corporate governance.

Atiku argued that autonomy is crucial for the NNPCL to evolve into a formidable institution with the technical and financial capacity required for global relevance in the petroleum industry.

Bringing attention to the Central Bank Act 2007, Atiku noted that it does not confer the responsibility on the CBN to vet transactions or formulate and maintain internal controls and audits in state-owned enterprises, public or private. He urged the CBN to adhere to its core functions as outlined in the extant law.

To ensure transparency and accountability in the NNPCL’s operation, Atiku proposed monitoring its bank accounts for crude sales proceeds, including those at institutions like Morgan Stanley, by the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and the CBN. Additionally, he recommended a better selection and reconstitution of the NNPCL board members, potentially including representatives from the CBN and NEITI, to enhance governance and oversight.

Atiku’s critique highlights a growing controversy surrounding the NNPC’s financial management, sparking debates on legalities, due process, and the autonomy of state-owned enterprises in Nigeria’s oil sector. The clash of perspectives between political figures like Atiku and the current administration raises broader questions about the governance of crucial institutions in the country’s economic landscape.

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