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PANDEF says FG playing ethnic game by employing only northerners in NNPC

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By Ebi Perekeme 

Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) have condemned what they called lopsided appointments into top management positions at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries and departments in favour of the northern part of the country. Their position was contained in an open letter entitled, “Re: Addressing the Continued Injustice Against the Niger Delta People (Vis) the Lopsided Appointments in the NNPC and its Subsidiaries/Departments,” addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend.

The leaders called on the president to urgently correct the abnormality. They also reaffirmed the call for proper restructuring of the country.

PANDEF, in the letter signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Ken Robinson, rejected the deliberate and calculated sidelining of Niger Delta indigenes in appointments and redeployments in the NNPC and its subsidiaries. The group said the region’s marginalisation at the national oil corporation became even more pronounced in the March 2020 promotions and reorganisation, which further isolated the Niger Delta from its mainstream management structure.

PANDEF stated, “Today, under Mr. President’s watch, the paradoxical and dismal reality is that in the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), through which the federal government regulates and participates in the country’s petroleum industry that operates in our backyards, virtually all top management positions of the corporation and its subsidiaries, departments, and ventures are held by persons from the northern zones of the country that do not produce an ounce of oil, to the exclusion of indigenes of oil producing communities of Niger Delta region.”

PANDEF listed 20 management positions held by northerners in NNPC to include Group Managing Director (GMD), Mele Kyari; Chief Finance Officer, Finance and Accounts, Umar Ajiya; Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, Yusuf Usman; Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services, Farouk Garba Sa’id; Chief Operating Officer, Refining and Petrochemicals, Mustapha Yakubu; Corporate Secretary/Legal Adviser to the Corporation, Hadiza Coomassie; GGM, International Energy Relations, IER, Omar Ibrahim; GGM, Renewable Energy, Kallamu Abdullahi; GGM, Governance Risk and Compliance, Ibrahim Birma; and GGM, NAPIMS, Bala Wunti.

Others are MD, NNPC Shipping, Inuwa Waya; MD, Pipelines and Product Marketing, PPMC, Musa Lawan; MD, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, Mansur Sambo; MD, Duke Oil/NNPC Trading Company, Lawal Sade; MD, Port Harcourt Refining Company, Malami Shehu; MD, Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company, Muhammed Abah; MD, Nigeria Gas Marketing Company, Abdulkadir Ahmed; MD, Nigeria Gas and Power Investment Company Limited, Salihu Jamari; MD, NNPC Medical Services, Mohammed Zango; and Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Sarki Auwalu.

PANDEF stated that the entire southern Nigeria was allotted only three top management positions in the NNPC.

“The oil producing zones of South-south, South-east, and South-west are left with one Chief Operating Officer position each, and a few senior and middle level management positions in peripheral and incidental subsidiaries, departments and divisions of the corporation,” the Niger Delta group stated.

The open letter stated further, “The NNPC Board subsists as was constituted in 2016 without changes, apart from the Minister of State, Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, and Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari from Borno state, who replaced Maikanti Bari as Group Managing Director in July 2019. And Mr President remains the petroleum minister.

The management pattern in NNPC is replicated in all other oil related agencies, such as Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Petroleum Equalisation Fund, etc.

“Employment into the NNPC and other related agencies is not anything different. While young graduates of the Niger Delta region with degrees in petroleum engineering and allied fields remain jobless, northerners with degrees in history are working as managers in the NNPC.

“Ironically, the South-south zone produces about 95 per cent of Nigeria’s crude oil resources, which account for over 90 per cent of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings. The effects of oil exploration on the hitherto luxurious ecosystem of the Niger Delta, and damage done to the indigenous people’s means of livelihood with little, if any, improvement in their standard of living, are sad verities that make the situation in the NNPC more vexing.”

PANDEF detailed Nigeria’s crude oil production figures by state as follows, to press home its opposition to the NNPC management structure under Buhari:

1. Akwa Ibom 504,000 bpd-31.4%

2. Delta 346,000 bpd – 21.56%

3. Rivers 344,000 bpd- 21.43%

4. Bayelsa 290,000 bpd- 18.07%

5. Edo 33,000 bpd – 2.06%

6. Ondo 60,000 bpd – 3.74%

7. Imo 17,000 bpd – 1.06%

8. Abia 11,000 bpd – 0.68%

Oil production In the northern zones = 0%

According to the Niger Delta leaders, “Chapter 2, Section 14 (3) of the Nation’s Constitution, which Mr. President swore on oath to uphold and defend, provides that the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”

The group maintained that the NNPC management configuration could neither promote national unity nor national loyalty, saying it goes against the spirit and letter of the constitution.

“Regrettably, the uncouth discriminative bias against the Niger Delta region is even being perpetuated in the current efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the country, and in the dispensation of palliatives to vulnerable citizens by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the federal government,” PANDEF stated.

It told Buhari, “Concerning the $311 million US Dollars Abacha loot recently returned from the United States, which your administration said has been allocated to projects; including the second Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressways, as well as the Mambilla Power Project in North-east zone; no project in the South-south zone is listed.

“These situations further bolster the Niger Delta peoples’ demand for not only adequate participation in the management, administration, and dispensation of the resources nature has richly endowed our lands but also for the restructuring of the country. And we will not stop; confident that someday the sun will shine on us.

“Mr. President need not be apprised that the people of the Niger Delta region have nothing against any part of the country. But this gross injustice against the people who bear the brunt of the oil exploration and exploitation activities in their land must stop. The region has been a ‘good friend’ to all parts of the country, particularly to northern Nigeria. More so, the region has demonstrated tremendous patriotism and goodwill towards your administration.

“Unfortunately, instead of appropriately reciprocating the gesture of the Niger Delta people by addressing the genuine demands of the region as encapsulated in the 16-Point Demand that was presented by PANDEF to Mr. President on 1st November 2016, what we see is further alienation and distancing by the federal government and its agencies.”

PANDEF said its letter was meant to highlight the “gross disproportions” in management appointments in the key oil corporation, “with the imploration that Mr. President should, in the interest of fairness, equity, PEACE and POSTERITY, correct the anomalies and give all regions and zones of the country due sense of belonging; especially the Niger Delta region. It is imperative that every effort should be employed to ensure that the subsisting peace in the Niger Delta region is sustained, in the context of the COVID-19 impact on the global economy and falling crude oil price.”

The group said the onus was on Buhari to “urgently address these palpable defects of your administration, and bequeath a worthwhile legacy; such that in the years to come, when citizens reminisce on the tenure of your presidency, the contemplations would not be distorted by unnerving shadows of nepotism, bias and injustice.”

PANDEF also flayed the recent nominations by the president into the Federal Character Commission, which had two nominees from the North designated for Chairman and Secretary of the commission.

“These actions undermine national cohesion and unity,” PANDEF stated. It added, “We cannot continue to run Nigeria in such manner.

“Luckily, Mr. President has sufficient time, of about three years, to alter the chronicle and theme it in the direction of equity and social justice.”