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Recently, there was a change of guard at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as President Goodluck Jonathan sacked Engineer Andrew Yakubu as the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the corporation and appointed Dr Joseph Thlama Dawha as the new GMD.
The Presidency gave no reason for the shake-up. However, investigations by TheEconomy revealed that the sacking of Yakubu was a fall-out of the alleged rift between him and the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke. Other factors believed to have propelled the President to act include recent controversial issues that tended to have dented the image of the NNPC such as the oil subsidy scandal, the alleged missing $49.8 billion and the probe into the N10 billion allegedly spent on chartered jets. But sources at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources insist that the appointment of Dr Dawha as NNPC’s new GMD was part of government’s efforts to reposition the corporation towards meeting globally accepted standards in its operations.
While many stakeholders in the oil and gas industry agree that the President has the authority to hire and fire, there are concerns over the rapid changes of chief executives of the NNPC. In the past five years, five GMDs have been appointed in quick succession to run the affairs of the corporation. The list include Dr Mohammed Barkindo who served as GMD from 2009 to 2010; Alhaji Shehu Ladan who was the GMD from April to May 2010; Mr Austen Oniwon who was NNPC’s helmsman from 2010 to 2012; Engr. Andrew Yakubu who superintended over the affairs of the corporation from 2012 to 2014; and Dr Joseph Dawha who was appointed as the new GMD on August 1, 2014.
To some experts in the oil and gas industry, the frequent changes in the top management cadre of the corporation have implications for the stability of the nation’s cash cow and policy implementation. There is a considerable consensus among them that the high turnover of GMDs has undermined the corporation’s policy focus and direction and by extension, the country’s oil and gas industry. Sadly too, there is no continuity as one GMD comes and initiates projects which will be abandoned by another. It against this background that experts and stakeholders have suggested that there should be a fixed tenure for the top management staff of the NNPC to allow them consistently drive policy so that the corporation would be transformed into a world-class oil and gas company driven by shared commitment to excellence such as its counterparts — Aramco of Saudi Arabia, Petrobras of Brazil and Statoil of Norway — which are also government-owned.
The profile of the new GMD of NNPC and his agenda for the corporation are also part of the package in our cover story entitled: Shake-up in NNPC: The inside story written by Olisemeka Obeche, Assistant Editor.