A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Former Nigerian Central Bank head joins Blackstone Africa Fund

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Emir of Kano.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Emir of Kano.

11 June 2015, New York – Lamido Sanusi, Nigeria’s ousted central-bank governor, will head up Blackstone BX +0.61%’s sub-Saharan Africa energy infrastructure fund, the giant private-equity firm has revealed.

Sanusi was considered an astute and charismatic central-bank governor for Africa’s biggest economy and oil producer, but he was suspended early last year after he raised concerns that the national petroleum company was either losing or stealing billions in oil revenue that should be ending up in state coffers. He remained suspended until his term ran out and the current central banker, Godwin Emefiele, replaced him in June 2014.

Sanusi has long kept a foot in two worlds in Nigeria. An Islamic scholar who studied theology in Sudan, his opinion is sought by the country’s Muslims in matters of Sharia law: Sanusi argues the 7th century Islamic code cannot be applied literally to modern affairs. But he’s also a widely listened to voice for the country’s largely Christian business elite, and for investors hoping to tap Nigeria’s 177 million person market.

After being ousted from the central bank last year, Sanusi was appointed the Emir of Kano, a ceremonial but influential post guiding Muslims in Nigeria’s north.

His allegations prompted then-president Goodluck Jonathan to order a “forensic audit” of the oil revenues, the results of which were released in late April.

It’s arguably down to the mismanagement of Nigeria’s oil reserves and revenues that Africa’s largest economy is now faltering, its currency falling, and daily blackouts growing longer, causing major disruptions to the flow of life and business in this key African economic hub.

Sanusi will now become chairman of the board of directors of Black Rhino, Blackstone’s fund that invests in energy-related infrastructure projects including oil pipelines. Brian Herlihy, Black Rhino’s Founder and chief executive said in a statement that Sanusi would provide “unparalleled insights into Africa’s regional and local socio-economic development needs.”

*Matina Stevis at matina.stevis@wsj.com – Wall street Journal

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