By Our Energy Correspondent
The flamboyant, powerful and influential super Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Deziani Allison Madueke was once again in the eyes of the storm, following the inexplicable removal of the hitherto Group Managing Director (GMD) of the major parastatal of the ministry, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Andrew Yakubu on Friday, August 1 2014 after two years on the saddle.
In the last five years the corporation has witnessed the removal and appointment of five different Group Managing Directors namely: Dr Mohammed Sunusi Barkindo, Mallam Shehu Ladan, Austine Oniwon and the fourth to get the boot is Engineer Andrew Yakubu and the new the helmsmen; have been changed constantly or eased out of the plum job in rather controversial circumstances, under the untouchable minister, President Goodluck Jonathan’s kinswoman.
According to sources, there were irreconcilable differences between the minister and the former GMD, Yakubu amongst which had to do with the latter’s disapproval of constant sack of highly skilled professionals in the corporation by the minister in favour her sycophants and kinsmen and womaen. Mr Yakubu’s position was that sycophancy should not be the basic criteria for appointment in the NNPC.
For instance a former GED of the NNPC in change of exploration, Abiye was sacked unconditionally after the fought spiritedly to reconcile accounts on alleged missing oil funds with ex-CBN Governor Sunusi Lamido Sunusi, others are differences on policies affecting the oil and gas industry and alienation of international oil companies above all Mr. Andrew Yakubu detested the idea of running after a minister with files when crucial decision were to be taken. Instead of being mutually consultative, the minister will rather give an order on what should be done, when it is technically obvious as defective. All she wanted from the management staff was ‘yes madam’. It was learnt that the minister has been having a running battle with Engr. Yakubu especially following the various probes by the national assembly, which project the NNPC as being corrupt. But the final straw that broke the camel’s back was his opposition to the minister’s court action which stopped the House of Representatives from probing the alleged N10 billion lavished on chartered jet, as well as piling up of files on matters affecting the industry on her desk without action.
It was however the refusal by the GMD to further renew or approve the N10 billion Jet- hire services that led to his removal under controversial circumstances. The President did not offer any reason for Yakubu’s removal even after his sack. Engr. Yakubu’s kinsmen of Southern Kaduna felt betrayed by his sack because they had supported the PDP since 1999. But many observers had averred that the frequent changes in the leadership of the NNPC in recent years may in some ways be said to be responsible for the corporation’s stunted growth since 1977 when it was formed.
It has also been observed that since his appointment in June 2012, Engr. Andrew Yakubu did not have smooth working relationship with the minister and his removal was therefore seen only as a matter of time. Analysts believe the Managing Director of PPMC Mr Haruna Momoh may be the next GMD of NNPC, looking at his antecedents and closeness to the petroleum minister. It would be recalled that Mr Momoh before his appointment as MD was a senior technical assistance. This kind of promotion of the minister’s cronies and sycophants is not the first of its kind in the cooperation.
Another case in point was when the minister disregarded the rules, guidelines, official protocols and procedures and hired one Eric Ufo as a Senior Special Adviser with no experience in the oil and gas industry. His engagement had disdain for administrative rules, yet Mr Ufo has become a tin god in the oil cooperation.
A staff of the NNPC told DESERTHERALD that Mr. Haruna Momoh is conduit pipe for his mistress, Diezeni in the sector thereby controlling the corporation through his appointed cronies (Deport Managers) in the refineries.
Although Yakubu’s two years administration in the NNPC had witnessed series of challenges that threatened its integrity and accountability, many staff of the corporation commended him for standing for their welfare and insistence on due process in the management of the affairs of the corporation.
He was said not to be happy and comfortable with the disagreement between the Central Bank of Nigeria and the corporation over the alleged unremitted S49.8 billion crude oil revenue, as exposed by the former CBN governor Sunusi Lamido Sanusi.
The appointment of the fifth GMD Joseph Thlama Dawha on Friday 1st, August 2014 will mark another milestone as stakeholders will watch how long he will be able to cope with the intrigues, interests and oil politics in the ministry under the minister and wife of a former admiral Allison Madueke. Speculations are rife that the new GMD will supervise the disbursement of funds under the corporation for the 2015 election; which will serve as his litmus test and trial for loyalty and support.
As things currently look and appear, the GMD’s had been rendered as sacrificial lamb because they are not, or were not the only problem of the NNPC who must be unceremoniously removed to pave way for the much-talked about transformation to take place in the oil industry. Many analysts were quick to point at the direction of the minister under whose supervision the ministry had recorded avalanche of financial scandals such that no respected government ought to retain the NNPC minister, MD PPMC and alike for a day longer in the corporation.
“We vividly recall the N6billion scam discovered by the national assembly, the allegation of unremitted S49.8billion crude oil revenue made by the former CBN Governor, the alleged S10billion private Jet contract, and many others, said the staff who does not want his name in print for fear of victimization.
According to a Human Right Lawyer, Barrister Femi Aborishade, Nigerians will like to know the basic of the changes at the level of the GMD’s only leaving out others such as the MD of the PPMC Prnice Haruna Momoh who has been shielded by the minister despite being indicted in the subsidy scam.
Is it that the GMD’s are the problem of the NNPC in terms of corruption while the minister and others in the corporation are saints? Or is it that those have been removed were not sufficiently co-operative with the minister in the alleged looting of the NNPC as reflected in all the investigations of the cooperation of the NNPC?
It would be recalled that during the national assembly public hearing on the oil subsidy issue, “Nigerians were made to know that Haruna Momoh, the Managing Director of the PPMC and Diezani Allison Madueke, the minister of petroleum resources were been demanding and pocketing N50 per litre of kerosene and petrol product by local refineries from January 2011 to date.” The reason they gave during the last fuel protest was that it was the marketers’ contribution to Jonathan’s election, but it had continued, even after the elections.
It was also revealed that brief case companies were allowed to lift crude oil because they paid a minimum of S1 million dollars to MD Momoh and Diezani, the minister. Again, the minister’s younger brother Timi Agama owns two companies Nezor SA and Tridax SA which in the last sixteen months of her tenure as minister have out of nowhere emerged as some of the few companies lifting crude oil and some of the largest beneficiaries of the petroleum subsidy.
During the house Committee’s public hearing the managing director of the petroleum and pipeline marketing company PPMC, Haruna Momoh, had told them that “the PPMC does not own a single filling station in the country” but many observed that there have been elite conspiracy between him and oil marketers on one hand, and the PPMC and major marketers and oil importer on the other hand in which billions exchanged hands. Many say that Momoh is a stooge of minister Diezani Madueke, which informs why he has not been removed despite being found wanting in the discharge of his responsibilities as MD of PPMC at a time when there is huge financial scandal in the kerosene subsidy matter.
According to him, kerosene is scarce despite huge statistics on supplies and challenges in distribution because “substantial kerosene was diverted to neighbouring countries to be sold at higher price because Nigeria subsidized the supply, adding that kerosene is used for road projects in the construction industries, and that it is used as aviation fuel and the activities of vandals, who frequently destroy pipelines, compounding the distribution challenges.
He said there was over reliance on kerosene for domestic purposes and therefore urged Nigerians to consider liquefied natural gas as a cheaper alternative that could force down the price of kerosene which is currently out of the reach of most families who now resort to charcoal and firewood.
When the committee asked him to disclose the actual subsidy spent on kerosene in the last four years under review, Momoh evaded it, and redirected it to the NNPC GMD, Engr. Yakubu. But there were allegations against the PPMC which sells kerosene to marketers, many of whom gave bribes to NNPC officials before they were given approvals to import it into the country.
Our findings reveal that if marketers had lifted about 7.819 billion liters of kerosene, a whooping sum of N195.5bn must have been paid as bribe to NNPC officials before they got the kerosene allocations.
It was revealed that “although marketers would usually get allocations to lift kerosene at N40.90K, “ they had to pay N25 per liter as mobilization fee to NNPC officials without which they could not get the allocations. The source further adds that “if marketers adds N25 to N40.90k, they are already paying almost N70 per liter and by the time they add their operational cost and other expenses to it, it will be practically impossible for them to sell kerosene at the official retail price of N50 per liter” but the marketers cannot sell at N50 per liter after paying N25 on every liter and incurring other costs.”
This is the way teeming masses are cheated while the MD of PPMC and other clique or cartel members in the NNPC and ministry smail all the way to their banks through rip offs and wicked conspiracy with marketers. This has continued but because Mr. Momoh is an errand boy and a stooge of the minister, he is accused of being used to cheat on the people who now pay through their noses to buy kerosene.
In a statement issued by Okunbiri call for the removal of PPMC MD Haruna Momoh on ground of inefficiency, wanton fraud and working contrary to transformation agenda in the petroleum sector. He attributed inefficiency to what he described as undeserved promotion in PPMC which did not follow due process in line with civil service rule, describing the PPMC MD as an enemy of the sector.
He added that drastic changes are required in NNPC managerial and board leadership. Given the widespread corruption for which the cooperation has been known as ascertained by the KPMG report. The change ought to begging with removal of the minister and her cronies in the petroleum. If Mr President is thoroughly sincere.
The MD, PPMC, Haruna Momoh has also been accused of conniving with the Kaduna Office of the Company to deny them the sales of bitumen which they use for road construction. According to the Representatives of the Group, “The PPMC is conniving with some foreign companies to out them out of business and caked on the Federal Government of intervene.
They further said: “we were given allocation for bitumen which we paid for a long time ago, we were asked to come for loading, but after they loaded three trucks, we were sent out on the excuse that they wanted to increase the price of the product”. We also observe that for the past three years, the PPMC will only give us products during the rainy season when roads construction is not going on, but during dry season when needed most, they denied us the products, due to illegalities and wicked conspiracy with foreigners by the officials of the Kaduna PPMC.
The marketers accused the officials of colluding and conniving with the importers to deny them bitumen despite playing well ahead of time. They wanted the PPMC to exhaust all its supply before they next import which is detrimental to the businesses of the marketers who wanted the products badly but are denied unjustly. All these are going on in the Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company, acting in cahoots with the PPMC Boss Momoh, who is protecting the corrupt officials who also render periodic returns to him at Abuja.
Another dimension to the corrupt and perverted ways of dealing with customers in the Kaduna Refinery, under Alhaji Bukar Shettima the Deport Manager is that of pipeline vandalism and the stealing of petroleum products being pomped from the Warri Refinery. Several reports were made to the DM by Eye-witnesses in the villages where the pipelines were ruptured by oil thieves, who use long articulated vehicles and other smaller vehicles to tap from leaked or damaged pipelines, but no action was taken.
After intense pressure by the village authorities, who feared for their lives due to damaged NNPC pipelines in their communities which may set fire and damage or endanger their lives and property, the General Manager told them to go away that, “security men will be drafted to the areas to stop the criminal act of vandalization and sabotage, but nobody came according to our reliable sources in the villages (Names withheld).
Many have since said there is a connivance and plot between the MD and the criminals who are working in tandem to sabotage National Assets thereby committing treasonable felony and brigandage. There is a conspiracy at work and the NNPC officials are aware of the nefarious activities of these crooks and vandals but look the other way while acts of stealing and destructions take place with impurity while the petroleum Ministry and the NNPC Headquarters fail to act to save National Assets. “The situation is quite unfortunate, a Resident in one of the villages lamented.