17 February 2016, Lagos – Former Director-General of Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, Mr. Benjamin Ezra Dikki, has called for the urgent privatisation of the nation’s refineries, saying the option of Turn-Around-Maintenance, TAM, has remained a distraction over the years.
Given the current state of the refineries, the BPE insists that “government cannot afford to waste resources at this critical time the economy is faced with.”
Dikki made the call, yesterday, at the formal hand over to Dr. Vincent Akpotaire, the most senior officer at the bureau. This was in line with the Presidency’s directive to all the chief executives of the Federal Government agencies who were relieved of their appointments on Monday.
A statement from the BPE also quoted Dikki as calling for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, “to open up the Nigerian economy for private sector participation.”
Dikki was among the 26 agency chief executives sacked on Monday, an exercise that also saw the exit of four petroleum agency CEOs. The statement became the first notification of adherence to the Presidency directive to the agencies, as others were yet to formally announce their handover, even as reactions have trailed those affected in the petroleum industry.
The former BPE boss also used the opportunity to appeal to the Federal Government to “pass into law the reform bills initiated by the bureau to boost the Nigerian economy, especially in the face of dwindling revenue from oil.”
Reactions to sack of petroleum chief
The sacking of the agencies’ CEOs have elicited reactions from industry operators, some of whom noted that some of the chief executives were under tenure appointments and should have been allowed to complete their tenures.
Chamberlain Oyibo, former Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, said: “Government is the owner of the business. Government hires and fires. However, some of those sacked have tenure. There must be some form of compensation, if they are removed before the end of their tenure”.
Mr. Muda Yusuf, Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, said: “Often times we have argued about certain heads of operations being removed. But the critical area we are not asking questions is: are there good and sustainable structures in place?
“For me, if we have the right institution in the country, the head doesn’t count that much. And as such, the effect may not be as profound as being portrayed. What is important is that we have an institution that is structured and running properly, and should be able to work using the platform of those institutions. The quality of the institutions is what matters most and not the change in heads or leadership.”
Barry Esimone, Chief Executive Officer, Crusteam Group, energy and power expert, said: “There is nothing wrong with the changes. Political parties seek for power to principally appoint their own people into offices so as to deliver the promise they made during campaigns.
“However, the issue is whether they will be able to deliver the goods as against being there for political patronage. The Heads of NCDMB, PEF, BPE, PPPRA and PTDF are sensitive and so should be filled with competent and efficient people. They should be filled with people who should be able to take the various organisations to the next level. It would be unfortunate for this country, if the people coming are just appointed for political patronage”.
Olisemeka Ojieh, Managing Director, Petrocarbon Engineering Limited – “The question I would ask is what problems exactly are being solved by these sacks? What exactly did these men do? These are the questions we should ask as Nigerians. President Muhammadu Buhari has been sacking since the beginning of this administration, yet the economy is in ruins and still going deeper into the mud. The Naira is sinking in quick sand every day. You cannot be settling fights when your house is burning. Buhari should focus all his attention on the things that matter and allow these agencies to work in the spirit of continuity.”