PENGASSAN disagrees with El-Rufai’s clamour for disbanding of NNPC

THE Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has faulted call by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, for the scrapping of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Reacting to  the Governor’s comment in a paper he delivered during the 7th Prof. Wole Soyinka Birthday Lecture,  the Acting General Secretary of PENGASSAN,  Lumumba Okugbawa, explained that  instead of “kill the NNPC,” the Governor should have called for the insulation of the corporation from what he identified as  “political interference that distract the organization”.

Okugbawa noted that the alleged  corruption issue in the NNPC mentioned by the Governor is a problem hindering Nigeria’s growth and development in the oil and gas sector as a whole; adding, “Let the government deal with the corruption in the system but not to ‘throw away the baby with the bath water.”

He said that NNPC created by an Act of Parliament in 1977, is made up of the holding office, subsidiaries and service units have been subjected to “undue political interference,which hinders its autonomy for effective running and competitiveness for the past six years and that should not be a yardstick for the scrapping of the corporation as demanded by the Governor”.

He said: “If you look at the NNPC as it is today, it has been politicised with most of its decisions and operations being influenced with political motives and at times, executive fiat. The corporation is so much tied to the apron of the political office holders but not the technocrats that are at the helm of corporation’s affairs.”

Some of the areas of interference listed by  Okugbawa include appointment and removal of the Group Managing Director (GMD), Group Executive Directors (GED), and Managing Directors of NNPC subsidiaries at the whims and caprices of the president; and limited financial autonomy for its operations

The unionist added: “NNPC should be a National Oil Corporation that can compete globally like Saudi Aramco of Saudi Arabia, Petronas of Malaysia, Petrobras of Brazil and Statoil of Norway among others given the opportunities and market potentials”.

Explaining further, he said: “If we take a look at NNPC contemporaries in the world, such as Saudi Aramco, Petrobras, Petronas and Statoil, we will notice that their holding governments give those companies freedom to grow and expansion of the companies to the great benefits of the citizenry and their respective governments.

“Operations and administration of NNPC comes under several masters and conflicting instructions, some of which defy the national objectives and aspirations for setting up the National Oil Corporation and its subsidiaries.

“Appointment, removal and/or transfer of the heads and staff of the Corporation and its subsidiaries are often executed by fiat in the manner that undermine the extant national laws, and the NNPC Act.

“Frequent changes in top management positions lead to policy somersault, and create unstable system, which often breed compromise of corporate values and principles. It is instructive to note that between 2009 and now, there have been five GMDs for NNPC namely, Dr. Mohammed Barkindo (2009-2010); Late Alhaji Shehu Ladan (April – May 2010); Engineer Austen Oniwon (2010-2012); Engineer Andrew Yakubu (2012-2014) and Dr. Joseph Dawha (Aug 2014 till date).”

The unionist said that instead of  ‘killing the NNPC’, what the Governor should have called for is the reorganisation of the corporation and its subsidiaries to function effectively with clearer mandate, empowerment and improved financial approval authority without undue political interference.

He called on the government to instill in NNPC, the culture of corporate governance and career management, which require a legislative review to ensure that the board of NNPC is headed by technocrats and not politicians; infuse compliance with global best practices and competitiveness, responsibility, transparency and accountability of all accruing revenue and expenditure in the National Oil Company; ensure that audit of NNPC and Subsidiaries’ business and investment relationships, operations, financing, procurements are carried out and published at appropriate intervals.

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