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Much ado about sack of NNPC GMD

In the last five years, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has witnessed the removal and appointment of five Group Managing Directors.Three of the bosses…

In the last five years, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has witnessed the removal and appointment of five Group Managing Directors.
Three of the bosses of the state owned oil company, who served under the incumbent Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke were eased out of the plum job in rather controversial circumstances.
The immediate past boss of the Corporation, Engineer Andrew Yakubu, got the sack last Friday after over two years in office. The Presidency is yet to give any reason for the sack of Yakubu, who observers said had expressed the zeal to turn around the NNPC, until his last day on the job.
His exit was also seen as another usual ritual which had dogged the heads of the   previous occupants of the office under the current minister. His predecessors, Mohammed Barkindo, Malam Shehu Ladan and Austen Oniwon were of Northern extraction. Ladan, who replaced Barkindo only spent one month in office, making him the shortest serving Managing Director of the NNPC.
According to reports, irreconcilable differences between Yakubu and Madueke led to his exit from the job.
These differences include, among others, Yakubu’s disapproval of constant sack of highly skilled professionals in the corporation by the minister, differences on policies affecting the oil and gas industry and alienation of International Oil Companies (IOCs).
Others were his opposition to the Minister’s court action against the House of Representatives to halt the probe into alleged N10 billion lavished on chartered jet, non-availability of the Minister when crucial decisions are needed as well as piling up of files on matters affecting the industry on her desk.
Yakubu’s kinsmen, under the aegis of APC Justice Forum in Kaduna, viewed his sack as the height of betrayal of the people of Southern Kaduna that firmly stood behind the Peoples Democratic Party since 1999.
The frequent changes in the leadership of the NNPC in recent times can, in some ways, explain why the Corporation is still witnessing stunted growth since its creation in 1977.
The undue interference in the operation of the corporation by politicians with subterranean interest has not really helped project the vision of the NNPC, unlike its contemporaries in Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Norway.
For instance, Saudi Arabia’s Aramco that was established in 1933 is being monitored by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources together with the Supreme Council for Petroleum and Minerals.
Today, the country boasts of four domestic refineries, six domestic refining ventures as well as five international refining ventures.
Last year, the oil company made its largest contract award ever to Siemens for power plants component totalling $966.8million. Only this year, Saudi Aramco purchased 18 percent share of Brunei LNG for $639 million. As at now, the company is the largest producer of crude oil in the world, according to the latest survey.
Norway’s state oil company, Statoil, was founded in 1972, four years earlier than NNPC, but last year it clinched the Forbes rating as the world’s twenty sixth largest company, regardless of industry, by profit in the world.
The so-called transformation agenda that gained much voice in the NNPC since 10 years ago would have made a resounding success in Nigeria if there has been requisite continuity in the agenda of successive administration in the corporation.
One of Yakubu’s last assignments in office was his echoes that the  Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) transformation initiative aimed at repositioning the Corporation to be commercially focused and profit-oriented in preparation for the post-PIB era has begun to yield positive results with more of the strategic business units (SBUs) of the Corporation transiting from cost centres to profit centres.
He stated that more subsidiaries of the Corporation are beginning to make profit in their day-to-day operations as a result of some initiatives his management introduced upon assumption of office as GMD two years ago.
He said as opposed to the past when the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), and NNPC Retail Ltd were the only SBUs running at a profit, more subsidiaries, including the three refineries, have joined the train of profit centres as a result of the introduction of a scheme to supply crude oil to them by marine vessels.

Of course, one could really tell now how the programmes of the new helmsman, who is billed to retire soon, would affect the transformation agenda in order to achieve the desired result.
But this situation, at least, explains why the so-called Greenfield refineries being championed by the NNPC remains a paper project that may not come to life before the end of President Jonathan’s administration.
Observers say other projects of the NNPC like gas monetisation, crude oil supply, anti-pipeline vandalism etc, would have added value to the country’s economy if continuity had been maintained by successive administrations.
Mr. Niran Daniel, a Lagos-based energy expert criticised the federal government over the sack of the former boss of the NNPC, saying that such action is unfortunate and misguided.
According to him, the frequent sack of the boss of the NNPC on inexplicable ground by the government reflects the weak plank the nation’s oil and gas sector rests on.
He said serious nations do not run the activities of their  oil and gas industry the way Nigeria does.
Another expert, Mr Adebayo John, expressed doubt that the NNPC would ever deliver its mandate to Nigerians like its contemporaries elsewhere.
According to him, it is extremely difficult to free the NNPC, which is regarded as the nation’s cash crow, from the unquenchable appetite of politicians who seek to use the institution to satisfy their desires.
“The recent sack of the boss of the NNPC is one in numerous schemes employed by the powers-that-be to hold the corporation by the jugular. Most successful state oil companies in the world don’t employ this commando style to achieve result.’’
Human rights lawyer, Barrister Femi Aborishade, also punctured the frequent sack of NNPC bosses in recent times. He said though he NNPC Act does not provide for the manner of removal of the boss of the NNPC, it may be presumed that whoever has the power to appoint has power to remove.
According to him, section 3 sub(1) of the NNPC Act empowers the National Council of Ministers and not the President to appoint the Managing Director of NNPC as the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation.
He said by virtue of section 1 sub(2) and Paragraph 1 sub(1)(a) and(b) of the NNPC Act, a member of the Board of Directors, including the Managing Director, is required to, unless he has previously relinquished his membership on the Board, hold office for three years and be eligible for re-appointment for a further term of three years, but shall vacate his office at the expiration of a period of three years.
He said: “On the basis of the foregoing provisions of the NNPC, the changes in the management of the NNPC are dictatorial to the extent of not being in conformity with the Act.
“Though it may be agreed that the drastic changes are required in the NNPC managerial and Board leadership given the widespread corruption for which the corporation has been known as ascertained by the KPMG report, the change ought to begin with the removal of the Minister, Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke.
“The tenure of the Minister has been tainted with too many scandals such that no respectable government ought to retain her a day longer as a Minister. We recall the over $6billion scandal discovered by the National Assembly, the allegation of unremitted $49.8billion crude oil revenue made by the former CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the alleged $ 10billion private jet contract, and so on.
“Nigerians would like to know what has been the basis of the frequent changes at the level of the GMDs. Is it that the GMDs are the problem of the NNPC in terms of corruption while the Minister has been the saint fighting them? Or is it that those that have been removed are not sufficiently cooperative with the Minister in the alleged looting of the NNPC as reflected in all the investigations of the operations of the NNPC?
“We contend that as the NNPC is not the private estate of Mr. President, Nigerians deserve to know the reasons for the removal of any public officer. No public agency under a supposed democratic dispensation should be run whimsically and capriciously by Mr. President.’’
Nigerians, indeed, deserve to know much more about the health status of the NNPC and possibly offer some words on how best to reposition it for the benefits of all.

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