Abuja, Nigeria | – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who has promised to fight corruption embedded in the oil industry, plans to be the Cabinet minister in charge of the oil sector, a spokesman said Wednesday.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest petroleum producer and is hard hit by halved prices for the oil that provides 80 per cent of government income.
Buhari has said some $150 billion has been stolen from the treasury in 10 years and appealed at the United Nations this week for countries to dismantle safe havens for looted funds.
Buhari’s move would give him maximum power to push through needed reforms, analyst Malte Liewerscheidt of risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft said. But he warned it is “a high-risk strategy as it links Buhari’s fate as president with successful reform of the oil and gas sector.”
Buhari previously served as oil minister in the 1970s and head of the petroleum trust fund in the 1990s.
Garba Shehu, a spokesman for Buhari, confirmed the president will put his name forward as petroleum minister on a long-awaited Cabinet list to be presented for Parliament’s approval this week.
Buhari, who took office at the end of May, has said he needed time to ensure his ministers are free of the corruption that is endemic in this West African nation.