Just this week, the State Minister for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu alleged that the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru has overreached his authority by making numerous changes in the internal structure of the NNPC. The nature of these changes has warranted the minister to write to the President expressing his displeasure.

The NNPC is the national oil company for Nigeria charged with the responsibility of handling matters related to oil and gas in the country. NNPC discharges its function by a board in which the Minister of petroleum is the Chairman of that board. The members of the board are also to include the Director General of the Federal Ministry of Finance, the GMD and 3 people appointed by the National Council of Ministers with requisite knowledge or experience in the oil and gas industry.

As Nigeria has no substantive minister of petroleum, a position supposedly held by the president, it is expected that the state minister for petroleum Kachikwu Ibe, heads the board either in his position as the state minister or by implied appointment by the president, who by virtue of the NNPC ACT has the power to appoint an alternate chairman to head the board.

By simple rules of corporate governance, while the GMD would be in charge of the day to day running of the NNPC, it is expected that major policy decisions will be approved by the board. The Minister of State has alleged serious overreaching on the part of the GMD without recourse to him and it should be expected that with the nature of the kind of company that NNPC is, the head of the board is expected to have prior information before decisions affecting the structure of the NNPC. Whether or not these decisions require the consent of the chairman would be a separate matter entirely.

However, it seems that there is more to the whole issue and there might be a political undertone. The memo sent to the President also allege that the minister has tried to make appointments with the president and that has been futile on several occasions. This is quite strange owing to the fact that Mr Abba Kyari who is the president’s chief of staff is also a member of the Board of Directors of NNPC and his position avails him the opportunity to carry the minister’s grievances directly to the president or better still facilitated an appointment between the president and the minister.

It would be too early to determine the outcome of the memo, but it is very clear that there is no synergy in the board charged with the responsibility of bringing out the best from the country’s oil resources. This may have untold consequences especially as NNPC is the vehicle for the countries cash cow and not also forgetting the daily demand of products needed by the polity also supervised by NNPC.

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