The recent 12-member committee set up by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to enthrone according to her, Ă˘€śtransparency and sanitize activities in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)Ă˘€ť could best be described for what it was- a step in deceit.
If Mrs Madueke expected applause for the vote of no confidence on the NNPC, obviously she is not going to get it because she failed to properly situate the NNPCĂ˘€™s handicap or rather the cause of the massive rot which to a great extent was not the fault of the top management of the corporation though they cannot completely extricate themselves because without their collaboration it couldnĂ˘€™t have been possible for the apex oil concern to sink to such a low.
Whatever MaduekeĂ˘€™s committee designs as new corporate governance code for ensuring full transparency, good governance and global best practices in the oil corporation and other parastatals is not going to work until the root-cause of the problem in NNPC is destroyed and buried forever.
Time has come for those who lead us garner at least the threshold will-power to be honest and stop deceiving themselves. Is it not disheartening that in this country shadow chasing and sinister mindset have completely replaced sincerity and genuine commitment to service? Blanket condemnation of the NNPC as a fraud haven may not be enough in our genuine quest to unravel the demon that has continued to hold the corporation moribund. Every concerned Nigerian should bother to ask where and how the NNPC gets the funds to run its operations including the joint venture obligations.
Does the Corporation really have anything like budget in the strict sense of the term? So when the National Assembly roared like a lion seeking to devour the NNPC over its alleged refusal to present and defend its annual budget, did lawmaker succeed in their intimidation? The answer is No and the reason is simple: the NNPC has no budget in the strict sense of it outside what it agrees with the Presidency or rather whatĂ˘€™s given to it to run its operations.
Why is it that each time the National Assembly threatens NNPC over its budget, nothing comes out of it? The answer again is simple: the lawmakers know that the only place the NNPC reports to till tomorrow is the Presidency. This arrangement is not in any way a Jonathan- making. The present administration met it that way and keyed-in because itĂ˘€™s in its favour.
The question is: why has the National Assembly not taken any serious initiative to free the NNPC from the strangulating grip of the Presidency? The answer is simple: na the same people!
It was pathetic how Austin Oniwon and his management team were so harassed in the last few months by all kinds of National Assembly probe committees to the extent that the NNPC people lost composure and confidence in themselves and were acting like child witches in front of cameras juggling facts and figures in manners reminiscent of village primary one pupils.
It is time we place the NNPC problem in proper perspective. This will help re-position a re-banded NNPC or whatever comes out of it after the reforms as a commercial profit-oriented business organization.
How could anybody have expected the Presidency to publicly express misgivings over the level of compliance of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with the rules on revenue remittance to the Federation Account? This is the kind of mischief that has come to be associated with governance (rulership) in this country. No doubt that since the NNPC was established in 1977 to oversee the management and operation of the nationĂ˘€™s oil industry, the Corporation had not only failed to establish itself as an active oil company in business to make profit, it has also failed in establishing administrative structures that is free from government manipulations especially the Presidency.
Any performance rating or assessment of the NNPC would be outrightly biased and grossly incomplete if it does not take due consideration of the negative effects of undue PresidencyĂ˘€™s interference on the activities of the corporation.
Whether the Government wants to hear this or not, It must be said that the Presidency's unholy interference in the operations of the NNPC, especially in money matters, has remained the sole cause of the rot in the system and this hascaused terrible harm and made the corporation lose its credibility both at home and abroad. There is no amount of unbundling that would make NNPC or its strategic business units graft-free if the corporation continues to take direct instructions from the Presidency or even any other government agency that is not schooled in the highly technical oil and gas exploration and production business even the downstream aspect of its operations.
Under the pretence of correcting the alleged Ă˘€świdespread fraud and corruption in the NNPC,Ă˘€ť the Obasanjo government short-circuited all existing platforms for decent business transactions in the corporation and technically ran the nationĂ˘€™s apex oil concern aground. Truth be told, the pathetic state of the NNPC today is a showcase of the ObasanjoĂ˘€™s legacy in the oil industry. The Obasanjo Presidency took this unholy meddling in the affairs and especially the accounts of the NNPC to a criminal height throughout its eight-year stay in office. The YarĂ˘€™aduaĂ˘€™s administration modified the milking strategy and even introduced new dimensions especially when the late president became incapacitated. All sorts of miscreants including housewives and adult almajiris were dishing orders for money and funny contracts from the NNPC group managing director to the extent that it looked as if the GMD reported directly to the wife of the late president and the cabal around her.
Now also, the Jonathan Presidency is not behaving better. It may even be apt to conclude that the Jonathan Presidency is even doing worst than the two previous administrations in terms of meddling with NNPC and oil money as the language of the rot in the corporation which was originally Yoruba has now been translated from Hausa to Izon. To a great extent, the NNPC was the architect of its misfortunes. The administrators of the organization especially within the last twelve and half years allowed the Presidency to use them to ridicule the corporationĂ˘€™s efforts in the nationĂ˘€™s crucial oil sector.
This is the truth.
The National Assembly is fully aware of where the problems of the corporation are coming from and should frontally the Ă˘€śbig masquerade if itĂ˘€™s serious at sanitizing the NNPC. It was actually surprising that neither the NNPC officials nor any other person that appeared before the two National Assembly probe committees mentioned anything about the PresidencyĂ˘€™s and the PDPĂ˘€™s involvement in the money mess hanging on the corporation. For the first time, let the administrators of the NNPC be challenged to institute an independent audit of its finances and come up with a strong case to prove that the problems of the corporation had always been extraneous.
Needless to say that whether the Group Managing Director likes it or not, if he does not pioneer this self audit, any probe instituted by the National Assembly, would continue forever to indict the NNPC management for massive corruption and unbalanced accounting for oil and gas proceeds.
Ifeanyi izeze is an Abuja-based consultant on strategy and communication ([email protected]; 234-8033043009)
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