Change is constant! More importantly, positive change in a contemporary society is the ultimate goal of every community or nation. In Nigeria today, the one change that every lover of this country desires is that of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
This change is essential, not only because NNPC is the repository of the proceeds from the nation’s oil and gas exports, but also because it supervises the oil and gas sector which contributes over 80 per cent of foreign exchange earnings of the country.
In the last couple of years however, the NNPC has come under intense scrutiny as a result of various allegations of financial impropriety against the top management of the corporation.
The height of such allegations were made by Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the effect that over $20 billion of oil proceeds went missing in the coffers of NNPC. To put it in better perspective, he accused NNPC of not remitting the entire proceeds of oil revenue accruing to the Federal Government through the CBN. In other words, NNPC was accused of withholding part of
such oil revenue for expenditure by itself.
Expectedly, there was uproar and disbelief in the polity, even when Sanusi later put the missing funds at $10 billion. Indeed, many Nigerians could not comprehend how a government agency (NNPC) could unilaterally withhold part of oil revenue to itself without an enabling law or legislation to that effect or even presidential or ministerial directive.
However, the change we desire to see in NNPC began to take shape after the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, 2015 as President, Federal Republic of Nigeria. Since assumption of office, the Buhari administration has made the renewal of NNPC a top priority of the federal government, in line with the anti-corruption agenda of the administration.
Already, we have seen top personnel changes at NNPC and reduction of its over bloated structure and workforce for leaner operations, accountability and transparency. In our opinion, restructuring NNPC is beyond personnel changes. NNPC needs holistic structural changes in structure and operations, including non-political, non-tribal and non-religious bent in the recruitment process. Let the best hands get the job.
The corporation should equally be subjected to annual auditing by a credible foreign firm without root in Nigeria to avoid undue collusion and collaboration that could undermine the auditing process.
Already, Mr. Emmanuel Kachikwu, the new Group Managing Director of NNPC has promised to audit the accounts of the Corporation and also review several contracts awarded by past administrations. That is a welcome development and a good starting point to the Promised Land.
With oil prices plummeting in the international market and its attendant fall in revenue accruing to the government, this is the right time to rein in any form of financial impropriety in NNPC to ensure that the little revenue from oil export is fully accounted for and utilised for development purposes.
Indeed, NNPC is too important to the financial health of this nation to be left in the hands of unscrupulous ‘private businessmen’ whose main goal is to amass wealth as much as possible at the detriment of the people of Nigeria. For us, we are voting YES for a new NNPC anchored on competence, transparency and accountability for the Common Good.