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Some former ministers were selling about 1 million barrels of stolen crude per day - Buhari

22/07/2015 12:56

President Buhari Tuesday in the United States vowed  that his administration would trace the accounts of individuals who  stashed away ill-gotten oil money, freeze and recover the loot and  prosecute the culprits.

Reacting to questions from members of Nigerians In Diaspora  Organization (NIDO) in the United States and Canada at the Nigerian  Embassy in Washington DC on the third day of his visit, the President  lamented that "Corruption in Nigeria has virtually developed into a  culture where honest people are abused."

According to him, "250,000 barrels per day of Nigerian crude are  being stolen and people sell and put the money into individual  accounts," adding that the United States and other developed countries  "are helping us to trace such accounts now.

We will ask that such accounts be frozen and prosecute the  persons. The amount involved is mind-boggling. Some former ministers  were selling about one million barrels per day. I assure you that we  will trace and repatriate such money and use the documents to prosecute  them. A lot of damage has been done to the integrity of Nigeria with  individuals and institutions already compromised."

Citing the example of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation  (NNPC), President Buhari said unlike what obtained during his tenure as  Federal Commissioner for Petroleum under military regime when the NNPC  had only two traceable accounts before paying oil proceeds into the  Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), "now everybody is doing anyhow."

The President, who expressed skepticism on the existence of oil subsidy, said if subsidy was removed, transport, housing and food  prices would go out of control and the average worker would suffer  untold hardship.

 While agreeing that the "economy is in an extremely bad shape,"  following 16 years of bad government by the Peoples Democratic Party  (PDP) which ran down the oil refineries and had the "treasury in their  pockets," he said the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration would fulfill its three-pronged campaign manifesto of providing  security, turning around the economy with a major focus on youth  employment and fighting corruption. According to him, agriculture and  mining would receive priority attention as faster job-creation avenues  for the teeming unemployed youth, adding that some foreign investors had agreed to take advantage of the immense business opportunities in  Nigeria.

President Jonathan when asked if the Federal Government (FG) would  agree to negotiate with the Boko Haram insurgent and terrorist  organization to pave way for the release of the abducted Chibok  schoolgirls, replied that the FG would only negotiate if genuine and  confirmed leaders of the militant sect came forward and convinced the FG of the current conditions of the girls, their location and the sect's  willingness to negotiate. "Our objective is that we want the girls back, alive and returned to their families and rehabilitated. We are working  with neighboring countries if they will help," he said.

On when he would form his cabinet, the President, who observed  jokingly that the question was chasing him around the world even to the  point that at home he had been nicknamed, "Baba Go Slow!", noted that  not even the PDP during all the years it ruled the country ever never  formed a cabinet within the first four months. "I am going to go slow  and steady," he assured, as he called for patience to allow the new  administration "put some sense into governance and deal with  corruption."

President Buhari promised that his administration would at the right  time tap into the enormous talents available amongst members of NIDO  especially as consultants while their requests for voting right in 2019, a Diaspora Commission and opening of new consulates in parts of the  United States and Canada would be looked into.

The President had earlier met at the same venue with a group of young professionals in the United States and assured them of his government's resolve to fight corruption, remain steadfast and invest heavily in  education which he said was the answer to taking the youth out of  poverty and ignorance.  The youth in their huge numbers took turns to  express their best wishes for the President and the country.

Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
July 22, 2015

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