Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency and intelligence service began an investigation in May into whether the government was losing money through opaque contracts in which crude oil worth billions of dollars is given to traders in the exchanges.
That probe was set up by the administration led by Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari was inaugurated as president of Africa’s top crude producer and most populous nation on May 29 after winning an election on an anti-corruption platform.
“If the president says we must tidy up, then we must tidy up,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has said there was a loss of at least $600 million in revenue due to a discrepancy between the value of the crude and the products delivered. The figure was taken from its 2009-2011 and 2012 audits of the oil and gas industry.
Buhari’s advisors have recommended a comprehensive overhaul of Africa’s biggest oil industry and increased borrowing to help pay off $20 billion of government arrears.
He has been advised to end a programme that heavily subsidises gasoline and relies on imports for the bulk of Nigeria’s domestic demand due to an underperforming refining system.
The subsidy, which was revealed to have paid out more than $6 billion in fraudulent claims in 2012, is proving to be increasingly costly.