External Reserves Never Reached $67billion – CBN Governor Debunks Ezekwesili Claims


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THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, has said the highest the nation’s external reserves had ever attained was $62 billion during Musa Yar’ Adua administration and was never $67 billion as being currently speculated.

Sanusi, who was the guest speaker at the Metropolitan Club Forum in Lagos on Tuesday, explained that the raging controversy around the external reserves was needless, stressing that governments all over the world resort to spending part of the reserves when the need arise.

“You save money when prices of oil is high and you spend when price is low. It is part of the excess crude account that we use to finance the oil subsidy,” he said.

There has been raging controversy over the level of the external reserves before the coming into office of the late President Umaru Yar’adua and the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, when former Minister of Education and Solid Minerals Development and former World Bank Vice President, Oby Ezekwesili said in a speech at the convocation of the University of Nigeria Nsukka that their governments had wasted $67billion of foreign reserves bequeathed to it by the Obasanjo administration in 2007.

This caused a lot of back and forth between government spokespersons and Ezekwesili and her former colleagues.

On the transparency and accountability surrounding the spending of the external reserves by the government, the CBN boss said the apex bank is working with the ministry of finance to block all the leakages in the system.

Sanusi identified corruption as one of the major problems facing the country, stating that the sanitization exercise in the banking sector should be replicated in other sectors to have a sound economy.

“We must join hands and fight corruption in all strata of the economy. It is causing distortion and destruction to the economy. We fought it in the banking sector and we can all see the positive results. However, it is not only banks that we have thieves. They are everywhere. So other sectors should follow the CBN example,” he advised.

He justified the intervention of the apex bank in the critical sectors of the economy, noting that the development was impacting positively in the power and agriculture sectors.

“Beyond our core functions, we have a responsibility to grow other sectors of the economy. Banks must play their intermediation role in assisting the real economy for the creation of jobs,” he said.

He noted that the CBN has achieved milestones in its role, stating that inflation is now single digit, there is stable exchange rate and the reserves are on the rise.

The CBN Governor frowned against over reliance on oil which forms 80 per cent of the nation’s revenue, noting that oil subsidy which was N290 billion in 2009 hit N2.1 trillion in 2011.

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