Almost a month after he assumed office, President Muhammadu Buhari has dissolved the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation with immediate effect.
The announcement was made in a terse statement issued on Friday by the Director of Communications in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Haruna Imrana, on behalf of the HoS, Mr. Danladi Kifasi.
“The directive to that effect was conveyed in a letter signed on Friday, by Kifasi. In it, the President thanked members of the dissolved board for their services to the nation.
Following the victory of Buhari at the presidential election on March 28, there had been growing calls on the new government to tackle the alleged corruption in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, which currently contributes over 80 per cent of the country’s revenue.
Specifically, there had been calls from several quarters for the reform of the NNPC, as the corporation had been described as one of the world’s most opaque national oil companies.
Prior to the dissolution, members of the board, according to the NNPC, include the Minister of Petroleum Resources (Chair of the board); the Group Managing Director, Dr. Joseph Dawha; the Group Executive Director, Finance and Accounts, Mr. Bernard Otti; the Group Executive Director, Corporate Services, Dr. Dan Efebo; Alhaji Abdullahi Bukar; Mr. Danladi Wadzani; Prof. Olusegun Okunnu; Mr. Danladi Kifasi; Mr. Steven Oronsanye, and Mr. Ikechukwu Oguine (Coordinator, Legal Services/Secretary to the corporation).
The immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, had in July 2012 reconstituted a new board of the NNPC, with the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, as the chairperson.
There has been speculation that Buhari will keep the Petroleum minister portfolio for himself in his yet-to-be-announced cabinet rather than trust anyone else with the ministry.
The immediate past President, International Association for Energy Economics and Director, Emerald Energy Institute, University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Wumi Iledare, had earlier this month urged the president to immediately reconstitute the board of the NNPC and professionalise the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
He said, “In fact, he must, as a matter of urgency, reconstitute the NNPC board with no political appointees and must put round pegs in round holes in the corporation as mandated in the NNPC Act of 1977.”
Iledare, who is also a Professor Emeritus at the Centre for Energy Studies, Louisiana State University, United States, urged the President to ensure that all the agencies in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources are manned by competent hands with no political godfathers.
“He (Buhari) must professionalise the Ministry of Petroleum Resources as soon as possible,” Iledare said in The PUNCH report, headlined ‘Reconstitute NNPC board now, experts urge Buhari’.
“I will be glad to recommend many qualified people to him.”
Commenting on the dissolution of the board, the Head of Energy Research, Ecobank, Mr. Dolapo Oni, said, “It’s in line with our expectations that his restructuring of the petroleum sector would likely start at the NNPC. And I believe this is targeted at blocking leakages in the system and improving transparency and accountability at the NNPC.
“However, the absence of a cabinet or Petroleum Minister supports popular belief that he might want to lead the sector himself,” he added.