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'Nigeria must reform oil sector'

13 March 2014, 12:13

Lagos - Nigeria must reform its oil sector to end decades of suspicion of widespread corruption and build up public trust, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, finance minister, said in an article published on Thursday.

Okonjo-Iweala said that an investigation ordered by President Goodluck Jonathan into allegations of large-scale embezzlement by the state-run oil company had to be carried through.

"This work must be conducted urgently, and it must be followed by systemic reform of the oil sector to make it more transparent and accountable to the Nigerian people," she said in a comment piece in the Financial Times newspaper.

Okonjo-Iweala's remarks come after months of allegations by the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had not remitted billions of dollars of oil revenue.

The issue came to a head last month when the government suspended Sanusi after he said that $20 billion (14.3 million euros) was missing, accusing him of "financial recklessness".

His suspension amounts to a sacking as he had only months to serve before leaving office.

Government has been looking to reform the sector but a key plank of government policy, the Petroleum Industry Bill, has been stuck in the legislative pipeline since 2008.

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