Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has raised questions about the transparency surrounding the $3.3 billion emergency crude repayment loan obtained by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) in August 2023. The loan, secured from the African Export-Import Bank to stabilize the foreign exchange market, has become a subject of scrutiny, with Atiku expressing concerns over the lack of public disclosure.
Atiku pointed out that the available information on the deal is only coming from sources within the NNPCL. He highlighted the involvement of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) known as Project Gazelle Funding Limited, which was incorporated in the Bahamas. According to Atiku, the SPV acts as the borrower, while NNPCL sponsors the deal, committing to repay the loan with crude oil. The loan agreement stipulates an interest rate slightly exceeding 12%.
One of the notable aspects that Atiku raised is the registration of Project Gazelle Funding Limited in the Bahamas, a move that he finds questionable given the recent Paradise Papers scandal linked to the country. Atiku emphasized that transparency is crucial, especially when dealing with significant financial transactions involving public funds.
Furthermore, Atiku raised concerns about the apparent discrepancy between the loan amount and the projected repayment. According to the terms of the deal, Nigeria is expected to supply 90,000 barrels of its daily oil production, starting from 2024 until it reaches 164.25 million barrels for loan repayment. Atiku pointed out that, based on Nigeria’s crude oil benchmark price for 2024, the repayment could amount to a staggering $12 billion, creating a substantial difference of about $7 billion from the initial loan amount.
In response to these concerns, Atiku called on the Federal Government to provide clarity on the details of the NNPC loan deal. He emphasized the need for accountability, integrity, and direct communication from the government to address the substantial difference between the loan amount and the projected repayment. Atiku’s call for transparency underscores the importance of open communication and accountability in major financial transactions involving public resources.