PAN Niger-Delta Forum, PANDEF, leading stakeholders of the South-South, weekend, have accused the Federal Government of orchestrating the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, NNPCL, to undermine oil-producing states.
National Chairman, PANDEF, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, a former President of Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, Ledum Mitee, constitutional lawyer, Dr. Akpo Mudiaga-Odje, and others, who spoke to our reporters, said NNPCL as presently made up was unfair to states and local government areas.
They called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to, as constitutionally obliged, overturn the inequality.
They also criticized governors and lawmakers from oil states for their alleged coldness on matters of regional interests.
In January 2022, Buhari had appointed the Board and Management of the NNPCL under the powers vested in him under Section 59(2) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
In a statement, the Federal Government announced the Chairman of the Board as Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South-East), Mele Kolo Kyari as Chief Executive Officer, and Umar I. Ajiya as Chief Financial Officer.
Other Board Members, according to the statement, are Dr Tajudeen Umar (North-East), Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North-Central), Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North-West), Henry Obih (South-East), Constance Harry Marshal (South-South), and Chief Pius Akinyelure(South-West).
Also appointed are Executive Commissioners of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission.
They are Dr Nuhu Habib (Kano), Executive Commissioner, Development and Production, Dr Kelechi Onyekachi Ofoegbu (Imo), Executive Commissioner, Economic Regulations and Strategic Planning, Capt. Tonlagha Roland John (Delta), Executive Commissioner, Health, Safety, Environment and Community, and Jide Adeola (Kogi), Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services and Administration.
Earlier appointed are the Board Chairman, CEO, Executive Commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management, and Executive Commissioner, Finance, and Accounts.
Appointees at the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority are Francis Alabo Ogaree (Rivers), Executive Director, Hydrocarbon Processing, Mustapha Lamorde (Adamawa), Executive Director, Health, Safety, Environment and Community, Mansur Kuliya (Kano), Executive Director, Midstream and Downstream Gas Infrastructure Fund, Bashir Sadiq (Sokoto), Executive Director, Corporate Services and Administration, and Dr Zainab Gobir (Kwara), Executive Director, Economic Regulations and Strategic Planning.
They join the Board Chairman, Executive Director, Downstream Systems, Storage and Retailing Infrastructure, the CEO, and Executive Director, Finance and Accounts who had earlier been appointed.
For Midstream and Downstream Infrastructure Fund, Council Members are Mr Effiong Abia (Akwa Ibom), Bobboi Ahmed (Adamawa) and Abdullahi Bukar (Katsina).
We‘re dissatisfied – Essien
Speaking to Sunday Vanguard, Essien said: “It is unfortunate that it has always been so because they feel that the Niger Delta is a conquered area. That is why they do what they like, but we have been talking to let Nigerians know you cannot suppress the people forever.
“Every day, they are provoking Niger Deltans, they have shortchanged Niger Delta people. We believe it is deliberate, but one thing I know in life is that everything that has a beginning must also have an end.
“There is a limit you can push people to the wall and then they bounce back. And it can be very disastrous when you force people to bounce back.”
Asked if PANDEF believes Buhari would reconsider the NNPCL alleged lopsided structure in the nation’s interest, the PANDEF leader responded, “He can if he so wishes. That is why we keep asking for the restructuring of the country, it is the only way Nigeria can achieve peace, otherwise, it will be difficult for Nigeria to have peace.
“The National Assembly cannot do much about this because it is not the law of the National Assembly. It was only the executive that went to register NNPCL at the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC.
“So, the highest thing they could do is for those of them from the Niger Delta to raise motions on the floor of the National Assembly, asking the Presidency to reconsider the composition of the NNPCL.
“Motions are not laws, so the President is at liberty to accept it or not. It is not mandatory, motions are advisory.”
Dismantle structure —Mitee, Nwauju
On his part, Mitee, told Sunday Vanguard: “I think we all took our eyes off the ball since this administration came into being until nepotism took strong roots.
“This is despite the constitutional admonition that there should not be a concentration of persons from particular sections of the country in positions of government.
“When conversations over the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, started, we raised the alarm that vesting oil assets of the country in the Federal Government instead of the Federation, which is the three tiers of government, was wrong. But they ignored us”.
The former MOSOP leader went on, “Thus despite the claims that NNPCL was a commercial entity, it is actually a fraud perpetrated against the other two tiers of government, which enabled the NNPC to be subjected to political control and its nepotistic tendencies.
“I think not only me but all those committed to fair play and justice should reject this extreme lopsidedness. It’s a sure recipe for crisis.
“I am not one of those who believe that it was a mistake. It is deliberate as it aligns with a definite pattern that we are all aware. If the President believes in the country’s unity, he should dismantle the current structure.”
Tactic to enable northern interest – Mudiaga-Odje
Angry Mudiaga-Odje adumbrated: “The new NNPC LTD is a wholly owned Federal Government enterprise (NNPC 50 per cent and Ministry of Finance 50 per cent), and it is bound hand and foot by Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution to adhere to the principles of federal character in its management, structure and composition.
“The present composition, structure and/or nomenclature of the new NNPC is, therefore, lucidly unconstitutional by the patent domination through the ‘tyranny of the majority’ of northerners.
“Axiomatically, and I speak in sorrow, rather than anger, that this is not only an act of primordial callousness, but indeed a manifestation of extreme greed by our northern people.
“They know what they are doing and have been doing since independence to the oil producing communities and their states in Nigeria on any issue relating to the exploitation of their God- given resources. “It is a predetermined and premeditated strategy to perpetuate their interests over all matters relating to oil and gas in Nigeria.
“From management to staff employment and promotion, it is all for the North. I see a very strong and potent constitutional resistance coming soon from us, the producers, against this callous criminal exploitation of our resources and us.
“I respectfully urge Mr President to reconstitute the same in compliance with the Constitution. He should respect the sensibilities of those who produce and provide the oil and gas resources forcefully sequestrated by the Nigerian state”.
We expect nothing from Buhari—Gbemre, Wills
Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition, Zik Gbemre, also spoke: “With dominance of political power, the North has ensured it occupies the controlling position in NNPC and its subsidiaries. “Even with the oil and gas farmed from minority Niger Delta region, dreaming cannot achieve a just structuring of the NNPCL.
“As an extreme ethnic bigot, I do not expect President Buhari to do anything against the status quo in the NNPCL structure he has himself planted. “For a rubber stamp National Assembly, equally controlled by the North, they care too much about swelling their private vote at the expense of the common good. Therefore, we do not expect any miracle or justice from them to right the anomalies in the lopsided NNPCL structure.
“Niger Delta cannot rely on the North to do what is needed without political control. Just when we thought we could register our anger with purposeful protest, they gagged militants in the region with appeasement of pipeline surveillance contract. We will remain enslaved for long, unless we embrace unity of purpose as oil producing Niger Delta”.
Similarly, President, Ijaw Professionals Association (Homeland Chapter comprising Bayelsa, Rivers, and Delta) Barrister Iniruo Wills, said: “I am not expecting President Buhari or the National Assembly to do anything about what from their jaundiced lens apparently serves their primordial interests.”
Waste of time —Ekwok, C’River PFN chair
Chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Cross River State and lecturer at University of Calabar, Dr Lawrence Ekwok, told Sunday Vanguard: “My thought is that asking President Buhari to address the injustice is a waste of time. He did this with impunity and asking him to redress the situation is like asking a man who is after your life to protect you. “
NASS should take stance — Edokpolo, BNC
President, Benin National Congress, BNC, Ayamenkhue Edokpolo, shared his perspective: “I expected a walk- out of lawmakers from these environments in protest against such composition.
“I expected them to call a press conference and express their dissatisfaction and disenchantment on behalf of the oil- bearing communities because we did not elect them to serve their interests.’’