AFP, Lagos : Africa’s biggest oil producer Nigeria is facing questions about where billions of dollars in oil money is going, amid suspicions of fraud and it being syphoned off to fund election campaigns. The issue has been rumbling on since September, when the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation of withholding $49.8 billion in oil revenue. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who steps down as central bank chief in the coming months, later revised his figures down to $12 billion, sparking claims of political pressure. But this week he again claimed that the state-run NNPC owed the central bank money-this time $20 billion from the $67 billion earned from oil between January 2012 and July 2013. “It is now up to NNPC… to produce the proof that the $20 billion unremitted either did not belong to the federation or was legally and constitutionally spent,” he told a parliamentary committee. Nigeria produces about two million barrels of oil per day, and crude exports account for about 80 percent of government revenue. Government figures indicated it earned some $49 billion in export revenue in 2012, down from $54 billion the previous year. Some of the funds go into a rainy-day fund, called the Excess Crude Account (ECA), to ensure the government budget is financed in case world oil prices fall sharply. Last year, as global oil prices held above $100 per barrel, revenue above a benchmark of $79 per barrel set by the government and lawmakers went into the fund. According to the latest central bank figures, the ECA held $11.5 billion at the end of 2012, but this had dropped to $2.5 billion in January this year. The reduction comes at the same time as a decrease in foreign reserves. Last May they stood at $48 billion but are now at about $42.7 billion, according to CBN data. “It’s unfortunate that the government has indulged in a spending jamboree without any noticeable improvement in the standard of living of the people,” said Lagos economist Abolaji Odumesi. “The ECA is meant to protect Nigeria in the event of price shocks but the purpose for setting the fund aside is now being defeated,” the former banker told AFP. “Those in government are not thinking of tomorrow. They are not bothered about what becomes of the economy if the ECA dries up and there is drop in the international price of crude.” Nigeria’s influential governors’ forum, led by Rotimi Amaechi of the oil-rich Rivers state, has accused the federal government of unilaterally taking money from the account.