05 July 2013, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The Ministry of Petroleum Resources, MPR, in Nigeria has recently played out a most remarkable HR paradox. I would like to recommend that the Minister consults with HR professionals who can correct the anomalies in the process and procedure involved in the recent removal of the former Director of the DPR and puts an end to the errors of the 1975 “immediate effect retirement fiasco”. This particular unprofessional action smirks of instability and inconsistencies in the MPR and Nigeria’s public sector. A fundamental Human Resource procedure for disengagement has obviously been jettisoned and this is at variance with due process. The removal of the Director, DPR in a most unceremonious manner leaves a lot to be desired. The inability of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to follow due process in human resources management can create an Achilles heel for our hydrocarbon industry because highly skilled, knowledgeable human resource of integrity do not come cheap and would tend to shun positions that are considered rather unstable. If the Minister would bring to bear Shell’s professionalism with the best HR systems, processes and procedures, the result of this action would be that the best brains with independent minds and superior ideas that can transform the nation would be willing to serve the nation.
My first personal meeting with Mr. Osten Olorunsola in his Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCO, office exposed me to the fact that he is very passionate about developing young professionals and committed to being an excellent mentor and coach. It pleased me to know that he had a heart for developing the nation also. I believed then that with him in a leadership position there will be hope for any graduate who looked forward to a future that was hinged on meritocratic service in the Nigerian hydrocarbon industry. Almost 250 DPR new-hire’s benefitted from his leadership at the Department and at the recently concluded induction programme for new-hire, which I was involved in personally and corporately, he convinced me that beyond the job he meant well for the Department, regulation of Nigeria’s petroleum industry and the professional competence of regulator’s whom he viewed as the much needed change-agents that Nigeria requires.
Mr. Olorunsola’s professional pedigree is not only admirable but commendable. From his CV which was presented at the new-hire induction, his career commenced in ENI Nigeria, Italy and France in 1980 where he served until 1990 when he joined Shell until 2011. His meritorious career covers various world-class assignments where his knacks for strategic thinking, planning and execution enabled him create and add value within and outside Shell. Amongst other achievements, his career spans serving as: Business Interface Manager, Russia, Shell Regional Reserves Value Manager (RRVM) Africa – this position covered accountability for Shell International Oil and Gas reserves across Africa, Technology Manager Rijswijk, with a gap to act as a Strategic Business Adviser (SBA) to the Federal Government of Nigeria. He identified the need for professionals with international and overseas experience to regulate Nigeria’s hydrocarbon industry and being a patriotic Nigerian, accepted to serve his nation in the capacity of Director, DPR. He was brave enough to exit his world-class career path in Shell to serve for less than two years as Director. Nigeria and the DPR have indeed lost a true professional as it has in the past other senior executives under the MPR who were removed unceremoniously. Some examples include: Late Alhaji Shehu Ladan (NNPC, GMD), Dr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo (NNPC, GMD), Mr. Tony Chukwueke (DPR), Mr. Andrew Obaje (DPR) etc. If this HR anomaly is not corrected it is very likely that Mr. Osahon, the newly appointed Director DPR would be dismissed without due process being followed and the lesson should be that the MPR must constrain and restrain itself from politicising positions that require professionals and professionalism.
Nigeria is ranked 139th out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index. The abrupt replacement of a key resource at a time when the world awaits a credible bid round and the passage of the long awaited PIB beg to have questions answered on our commitment to due process, transparency and integrity. Nations that have long-term plans to actualise Vision 2020 are not only optimising talent, but are seeking for and attracting talent. Well-meaning Nigerians need to demand for the passage of a PIB which reduces the powers of the President and the Minister of Petroleum Resources as well as promote independent regulation of the industry. An autonomous DPR run by world-class regulators is required by us Nigerians if we must secure the future of generations unborn as well as experience national development and socio-economic transformation.
Dr. Ibilola Amao is the Principal Consultant with Lonadek Oil and Gas Consultants, a firm of technical consultants with their core competence in the area of Local Content and Vendor Development. For more information or to reach Dr. Amao you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lonadek.com.