30 June 2015, Abuja – vPresident Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to dissolve the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has been applauded as a major step towards sanitising the Nigerian oil and gas industry and the NNPC in particular. Many see the Corporation as lacking in transparency, amid allegations of corruption which the Board and management made no effort to check. –
Some respondents who spoke to Vanguard, argued that the NNPC is deliberately designed to continually deceive and keep Nigerians in the dark about the true state of things in the petroleum sector. They also believed that the NNPC had over the years been able to get away with almost everything because it enjoyed the patronage of both the executive and the legislative arms of government.
In particular, the Convener, Good Governance Group, Mr. GamboSeyi, lamented that the lack of transparency of the NNPC has helped in stunting the growth of the Nigerian economy.
Seyi said: “What we needed is total transparency of all the activities of the NNPC, even as we are still waiting for the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, to come so that the NNPC could be broken down into a more effective entity.
“Before that happens, it should be that if we want information from the NNPC, by the push of a button, we should be able to see it. Information like the number and state of our oil blocks and people operating the oil blocks; everything should be open.”
On his expectations from the NNPC, Seyi, a former image maker of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, said: “The NNPC that we want should not be a presidential reservoir whereby if they want toothpick in the Presidency, they go to the NNPC. That was what has killed this economy.
That is why they cannot have a proper account system in the NNPC. We have a lot of politicians in the NNPC, and as long as the politicians do not allow them to do their work has kept us where we are today.”
Also speaking, the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice, CSJ, Mr. Eze Onyekpere, commended the Federal Government for taking steps towards entrenching sanity in the petroleum sector.
He said: “The dissolution of the board is a step in the right direction, especially if you remember all the controversy and intrigues about the mismanagement of resources due to the Federation Account by that Corporation.
“This is just a preliminary thing because the idea is that the extant management should not be in charge as at the time they are being investigated and probed, so that they would not obstruct the course of justice and change.
“Also, it is imperative that government takes the long-distance approach which is the passage of the PIB, which will overhaul the whole oil and gas industry, not just changing the management of the NNPC. It is a step in the right direction.”
Similarly, Mr. Peter Esele, accused the NNPC Board of not being effective and had over the years, failed to promote transparency, checks and balances within the system.
Esele, a former PENGASSAN and Trade Unions Congress, TUC, president said: “No matter how good a man is, if the system that produces him is corrupt, the person would be corrupt. What we now need to do is to look at the system and ask: Why is NNPC financials so opaque? Why is it so difficult to understand what they do there? If the management is going off line, how would the board check the management?