The latest shakeup that led to the redeployments promotion and sacking of some senior management workers at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was in preparation for the proposed unbundling of the oil firm, it was learnt on Monday.
Officials of the corporation stated that the move was part of plans by NNPC to implement the recommendations contained in the Petroleum Industry Bill, which had been passed by the National Assembly.
This came as oil dealers under the aegis of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria told our correspondent that the government should ensure the speedy implementation of the unbundling of NNPC as proposed in the petroleum bill.
Although the bill had yet to be assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, it recommended that the corporation be transformed into a limited liability company.
It read in part, “The minister shall within six months from the commencement of this Act, cause to be incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, a limited liability company, which shall be called Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
“The minister shall at the incorporation of NNPC Limited, consult with the Minister of Finance to determine the number and nominal value of the shares to be allotted, which shall form the initial paid-up share capital of NNPC Limited and the government shall subscribe and pay cash for the shares.”
On why the corporation made new appointments ahead of its incorporation into a new entity as proposed in the PIB, its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Kennie Obateru, said, “The whole process of unbundling will happen when the bill is assented to.
“However, like in any serious organisation, when you anticipate that something will happen, you can begin to prepare yourself without necessarily having to take specific actions in that regard.
“But it becomes law only when Mr President assents to it and that is when categorical steps will be taken to effect the changes brought about by the PIB.”
Asked to explain the oil firm’s declaration that chief operating officer positions in the corporation had been re-designated as group executive directors in alignment with the rules of Company and Allied Matters Act, Obateru said officials in the new position might handle the required ground work when the PIB becomes law.
He said, “You can begin some preparatory work, for example, there’s no time we will not have people in that category. So, the nomenclature is just the issue and you can begin to do that, preparatory to the new identity.
“Maybe those are the people who will actually begin the groundwork for the changes when the PIB is assented to.”
On complaints in some quarters over the alleged undue sacking of the Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, Yusuf Usman, the NNPC spokesperson argued that what was done was based on the best assessment of the oil firm’s leadership.
Obateru said, “The leadership from time to time look at who can help deliver the best value for the job that is at hand to be done and that is the consideration that goes into such appointments.
“Only one person was replaced; others were either moved or promoted and that is based on an assessment and what the leadership thinks is best for the corporation.”
Commenting on the shakeup at the corporation, the National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, said the government was working in line with the PIB.
He said, “In line with the rules of the Corporate Affairs Commission, there must be an independent Nigerian National Petroleum Company, which is a registered company.
“So when you don’t follow all the laid down statutes, there is no way you are going to achieve the PIB because it gave room for all these factors that will ensure that this company or companies are run independently without undue interference.
“It is a laudable activity that shows transparency and we want to commend the minister, as well as ask for the speedy implementation of the unbundling process.”
On Monday NNPC announced the promotion and redeployment of some staff to fill vacant positions, as well as the disengagement of a chief operating officer.
The oil firm’s Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, said the new appointments would enable the corporation live up to the expectations of Nigerians.