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Buhari to appoint himself oil minister

30 September 2015, 07:07

Lagos - President Muhammadu Buhari is to take personal charge of the country's crucial oil portfolio, his spokesman said on Tuesday, as a deadline loomed for him to finally nominate his cabinet.

Reports from New York, where Buhari has been attending the UN General Assembly, quoted the president as saying he would be minister of petroleum resources, with a junior minister taking charge of day-to-day affairs in the sector.

"Confirmed. He said so," his spokesman Femi Adesina told AFP in a text message, without giving further details.

Buhari has made tackling the rot in the oil sector a priority, as he seeks to cut endemic graft and put the country's crippled, crude-dependent finances on a firmer footing.

The country has been hit badly by a slump in global crude prices since last year, squeezing government revenue.

Oil accounts for some 90 percent of Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings.

Also Read: Abuja energy expo cancelled over administration gaps

The president has vowed to recover "mind-boggling" sums of stolen oil cash, starting with a drastic overhaul of state-run oil firm the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC).

The NNPC has become a byword for corruption and last year was accused of failing to remit $20 billion in revenue to the central bank.

Buhari helped establish the NNPC in 1977 as oil minister under military ruler General Olusegun Obasanjo.

He was later in charge of the Petroleum Trust Fund during the time of General Sani Abacha in the 1990s.

Buhari's caution in appointing ministers has seen him nicknamed "Baba Go Slow" in Nigeria, but he has promised to name his cabinet by Wednesday.

Appointments have to be approved by parliament, which resumed sitting on Tuesday.

A committee advising Buhari on policy before he took office has recommended he streamlines the number of ministries and ministers.



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