06 August 2014, Sweetcrude, Lagos – At some point in the history of Nigeria, perhaps the height of Nigeria’s glory in the global hydrocarbon industry, a Nigerian with an admirable professional pedigree was nominated as the President of OPEC, served two terms as Secretary General of OPEC and left the highly esteemed position without blemish. That was Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, a cerebral man who accepted our Vision 2020 Eminent Persons Award in 2007 and always made Nigeria very proud. Dr. Lukman was indeed a seasoned technocrat who focused on optimizing Nigeria and Africa’s hydrocarbon assets whilst avoiding undue publicity. He always kept things simple, was neither known for frivolity nor living an exorbitant lifestyle. OPEC is quoted as noting: “He was widely recognized and highly regarded in the global petroleum industry; as a loyal and dedicated man, who had the best interests of Nigeria and OPEC at heart”
How did Dr. Lukman manage to maintain his continued relevance with OPEC in Vienna whilst playing a pivotal role in Nigeria for almost 5 decades? Lessons to be learnt is that when simplicity and humility is combined with education, enlightenment, empowerment, engagement and exposure Africans can achieve expertise, mastery and continue to be relevant in their sphere of influence. Prof. Wole Soyinka and Prof. Chinua Achebe are examples we have in the sphere of Literature.
Why was Diezanni Alison-Madueke’s nomination for the highly coveted seat of OPEC Secretary General, by President of Nigeria Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, rejected by the OPEC Board who insisted on retaining incumbent Abdullah al-Badri? Obviously, there is little or no correlation between Dr. Rilwan Lukman and Mrs. Alison-Madueke. Whilst her on-going probe in the House and antecedents in the industry over the past few years leaves much to be desired she is the first Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources that would work with five Group General Managers of NNPC in four years. Commencing with Dr Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo – Jan 2009; Mallam Shehu Ladan- April 2010; Engr. Austen Oniwon -May 2010; Engr. Andrew Yakubu -June 2012 she is now going to work with Dr Joseph Thlama Dawha – August 2014 who would soon be due for retirement. Mrs. Alison-Madueke is also being accused of fraud, involvement in a fuel subsidy scandal, referenced in deals with the unscrupulous etc. Furthermore, she cannot so easily be forgotten for her role in the 2013/2014 abandoned Marginal Field Bid Round.
This brings me to the mess we currently have with the non- implementation of the OGIC report recommendations as put together by eminent committee members under the leadership of Dr. Lukman. To move Nigeria forward, and if we must save the hydrocarbon industry from gross inefficiency, misconduct, fraud and blatant corruption, we must go back to Dr. Rilwanu’s recommendations of running NNPC as a profitable business rather than a cost centre. Extant laws should be reviewed to reduce the discretionary powers of the President of Nigeria and the Minister of Petroleum Resources,
If the Minister of Petroleum and the President of Nigeria can sack the GMD of NNPC and MD of NPDC, just like she did to the former Director of DPR without following due process, then Nigeria’s Oil and gas industry is truly in a spiraling state of decline and there is an urgent need for a bill to be passed into law to stop this sacrilege. It is necessary that new appointment must be subject to key stakeholder vote of confidence. Representatives of: NAPE, SPE, PETAN, LCCI/OPTS, COREN and a nominated representative per host states (wherein oil and gas assets reside) should nominate potential candidates from which members of the upper and lower house can make a selection.
To move Nigeria’s hydrocarbon industry forward, a law is required that would ensure that the GMD and Director of DPR enjoy a fixed tenure of service just like the President does. Potential candidates should be identified from middle management level, groomed to have a broad overview of the industry and exposed to the various parastatals that the make up the MPR. At least 3 – 5 candidates should be put forward for consideration. The most competent, widely accepted to industry and known to have the relevant experience, required exposure, pedigree and grooming should be subjected to a meritocratic process that is managed by Human Resources. Persons of unquestionable character and integrity must be chosen to manage Nigeria’s hydrocarbon asset. The process of removal or selecting the GMD or Director, DPR should never again be left to the discretion of the President and the Minister of Petroleum.
*Dr. Ibilola Amao is the Principal Consultant with Lonadek Oil and Gas Consultants Limited, a firm of technical consultants with their core competence in the area of Local Content and Vendor Development.