By Ken Robinson
The Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, notes with serious concern, the spate of obviously sponsored write-ups and commentaries, in the media, intended to mislead the public, on the lopsided appointments and deployments, at the Top Management Level of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
One of such distorted commentaries, is an article, published on the back page of a national Newspaper, the Sun, of Friday, 5th June 2020. The article, credited to one Godwin Odioko, is an upsetting gratuitous contrivance of fallacy.
While it is not unexpected that there would always be people, who would, for mere crumbs, offer themselves as vassal tools in the hands of the malevolent merchants of gross injustice against fellow Citizens. This Godwin Odioko, to whom the obnoxious article is credited, could be only existent in the jaundiced minds of the sponsors, and in Onuoha Udek’s “Public Sphere” space of the Sun newspaper.
The intentions of these orchestrated conspiracies, are patiently apparent; to create the impression that Southerners are not united, and are, therefore, game for unconscionable all-round exploitation. If not so, why did they not conjure up an Usman or a Musa? Or is it that the far North geopolitical Zones are bereft of writers and journalists, for their invidious propaganda?
However, PANDEF would let it be known, to the seeming relentless antagonists of the Niger Delta Region that their old trickeries would be of no effect this time; the people of the Niger Delta, South South Geopolitical Zone, in particular, are, over the ongoing NNPC issue, solidly amalgamated in a new resolve, to take on these hard hearted brinkmanship of the hegemonic adventurers, head on.
PANDEF finds it very preposterous that the author of the said article, and his sponsors, would have the boldface, temerity, to assert that the appointments and deployments are fair and just; for the North West and North East Zones to have 13 and 12 Top Management positions, respectively. The glaringly evident message is that just about all the prime positions of the NNPC are beyond the competence of all staff of the NNPC of South South, South West and South East Geopolitical Zones origin, and in the entire Oil and Gas Industry, from which to poach Nigerians of competence into the soul of national economy.
To state only the positions, that immediately come to mind, in the rapacious reorganization in the NNPC:
1. Group Managing Director
2. Chief Finance Officer.
3. Chief Operating Officer – Gas and Power.
4. Chief Operating Officer – Corporate Services.
5. Chief Operating Officer – Refining and Petrochemicals
6. Corporate Secretary to the Corporation and Legal Adviser.
In addition to, these, virtually all strategic Subsidiaries, Departments and Divisions of the Corporation, are allocated to persons from only two of the six geopolitical Zones of this wide Country brimming with educated, trained and competent Citizens, proven internationally. Such subsidiaries include:
National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS),
Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC),
Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC),
NNPC Trading Company,
Nigeria Gas Marketing Company,
Nigeria Gas and Power Investment Company,
Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR),
The list just goes on; and layers of staff, beneath those named are reflection of the top layer.
Meanwhile, the South South Geopolitical Zone, which accounts for about 95% of the Nation’s Crude Oil and Gas extraction, reportedly occupies only 12 lower level Management positions, with a spinning of only two, or three names, every time they seize yet another batch of strategic positions, with their flawed propaganda misinformation.
These wily unfair goings-on don’t seem to prick the conscience, for the barest moment, of Godwin Odioko, and his Sponsors. Do the Northern Zones share in the ecological devastation that the Niger Delta Region continues to suffer, day and night? Is it not shameful, that a “Godwin Odioko” would continue to accept to undertake this kind of dishonorable effort for the sake of mere crumbs?
We deem it necessary, to further clarify, the false allusion that the South South Geopolitical Zone has two members in the NNPC Board. This is simply untrue. The Minister of State, Petroleum, is not a statutory Member of the NNPC Board. Thus, His Excellency, Chief Timipre Sylva, former Governor of Bayelsa State, only sits on Board, at the discretion of President Buhari, who has continued to allocate to himself, the position of Petroleum Minister.
The NNPC Act of 1977, provides that the Board of Directors of the Corporation shall consist of a Chairman (the Minister of Petroleum), and the following other Members, that is:
a) The Director-General (Permanent Secretary), Federal Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
b) The Managing Director of the Corporation
c) Three persons, to be appointed by the National Council of Ministers.
President Buhari has continued to violate the Act by appointing six other Members to the Board.
Furthermore, the issues that are at stake, are not about the person of Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, nor of any other person, for that matter. Nonetheless, the unnecessary, and unpatriotic effort, of the Sun Newspaper article, to launder the profile of the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, further throws up salient questions.
PANDEF just finds it difficult to even imagine, whether those turning the Nation’s very sensitive Petroleum Corporation into their private and ethnic farmland, would have accepted an Obong Okon, a Chief Ama or an Olorogun Efe, as Group Managing Director, if the institution were a Nigerian National Groundnut Corporation, or Grains Board, or of any predominantly northern-based produce, or natural resource? Why has gold, notable in Zamfara State, not still nationalized?
We are not oblivious of the workings at the NNPC, where the Group Managing Director, as the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation, is responsible for the execution of its operational Policy, activities and associated services, on a day-to-day basis.
Neither have we forgotten how Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, was reportedly treacherously treated, by the then Group Managing Director of the NNPC, late Maikanti Baru, with the backing of those who appointed both of them.
Godwin Odioko and his conspiratorial cohorts, may wish to read the Insights on the matter, and related issues, by the late Professor Tam David West, Minister of Petroleum and Energy under General Muhammadu Buhari, as Military Head of State, in an interview published in the Punch Newspaper of October 15, 2017.
It is important to emphasize that the false claims, fallacies, and propaganda being promoted by the lopsided Management of the NNPC, through hired spin masters, will not deter the people of the Niger Delta Region from demanding their inalienable rights of adequate, equitable participation in the administration, management and dispensation of the resources that nature endowed their land with.
PANDEF will, further insist on the reinstatement of the practice, whereby the position of Group Managing Director of the NNPC was, rightly, reserved for the South South Geopolitical zone, which produces about 95% of the Nigeria’s crude extraction, equating to more than 90% of the National Budget.
It is reasonable to expect that the people of an area from where particular revenue is generated must have suffered some attendant consequences, arising from the activity. And such people should be compensated by enabling them to benefit from the revenues generated in their communities.
That was the basis of derivation principle, which existed before the discovery of oil in commercial quantities, in Olobiri, Bayelsa State.
When revenues from cocoa (in the West) and groundnut (in the North) were the nation’s economic mainstay, derivation was the Revenue Allocation principle, at over 60%, before Independence. It was dropped to 50% in 1960; and 45%, in 1969. It took a dizzying nosedive to 20% in 1975; and further to 1.5% in 1982; and 1.0 percent in 1990. It was moved up to 3.0%, in 1992, before the current 13%, was specified by Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
It is significant to note that Derivation, as a Revenue Allocation Principle, has been purposefully suppressed since crude oil became the Country’s major revenue earner, with the inclusion of factors like Equality of States, Land Mass and Population. Meanwhile, Oil and Gas exploration activities have degraded the hitherto luxuriant, healthy ecosystem of the Niger Delta, and damaged the indigenous people’s means of livelihood, with little or no effort to ameliorate their consequential dire standard of living.
PANDEF, therefore, reaffirms the Position of the Niger Delta People, as articulated in our Open Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, with a fresh urgent call, underlining that President Mahummadu Buhari should quickly correct the imbalances in the NNPC Management, and other agencies of the Federal Government, in the interest of unity, peace and progress of the Country.
Nigeria cannot continue in this way and manner, and expect to progress, and be reckoned with by other nations, watching!
We salute the significant role of the Nigerian Media, generally, as the Watchdog of Society, in highlighting these abnormalities. We equally commend well-meaning Nigerians, who have continued to draw the attention of Mr. President, and his Government, to the imbalances in his appointments, and the resultant dissensions. PANDEF particularly, notes the recent patriotic intervention of Colonel Dangiwa Umar (Rtd), who, by the thoughts expressed in his “Open Letter to the President”, on the same “Lopsided Appointments” subject, again presented himself, a true noble man, and defender of truth.
-Ken Robinson, National Publicity Secretary, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF