A first Board of Directors of the new Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, January 7, 2022, chaired by Senator Margery Okadigbo. But before the consummation of the council led by Okadigbo, there was a council that had existed for three months before its composition was changed. Recall that the composition of the council was first announced on Sunday, September 19, 2021 with Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as chairman, a development that was widely applauded by many South Easters who saw the appointment given to the South East, amid the mantra of marginalization, as the strategic accommodation of the area’s interest in the commanding height of the critical oil sector of the national economy.

The inauguration of the board led by Araraume, which was to be held on November 23, 2021, was suspended, indicating that there were conflicting issues – real or imagined – that needed to be addressed. The delay in the inauguration of the board of directors was considerable, and there was reasonable suspicion that Araraume’s presidency was the cause. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, who issued a statement announcing the suspension of the nomination, did not give details or details of the reasons behind the suspension. On January 7, 2022, when the president finally inaugurated the council, Araraume’s name was missing from the list.

It couldn’t be an oversight. He was chairman of the board for shouting out loud. The names of the other appointed members with Araraume were retained, and Senator Margery Okadigbo was named as the new chairperson, thus validating claims that the webs of intrigue around the Council concerned Araraume. But then, what was Araraume’s offense to justify his comeuppance of being dropped as Chairman of the Board of NNPC? Has it been presented negatively by the relevant security agencies? Should this occur, Nigerians should be made aware of the outcome of such profiling by the relevant security agencies; otherwise people would be left to speculate, make wild guesses and gossip about what doesn’t exist or what only exists in the imaginations of the orchestrators of the hypocritical narratives.

Leaving aside what their stories might be, which are in any case tenuous in the face of existing security reports from the relevant agencies which gave Araraume a clean bill when he was appointed executive director of the board of the Nigerian Commission. communications. (NCC) by President Buhari, a position he resigned in 2018 to run for Governor of Imo State in 2019. I have yet to be briefed on any new security profiling which is released to vitiate or replace the security clearance that was a prerequisite for his appointment to the NCC.

Other board members have scaled the security clearance hurdle. The president and full board members had received their letters of appointment and were awaiting their inauguration by the president, when the inauguration was caught up in a web of intrigue. There was a great conspiratorial alliance between some powerful forces, allegedly procured by a southeastern governor, a junior minister and some interests, to pressure the presidency to replace the entire council. The problem would seem to be with the elements who plotted to disband the council and not with Araraume who was the main target of the plot.

If information gleaned from a vine is infallible, it means those who undermined Araraume were truly desperate to get the Imo-born politician off the board so they could have their way into the NNPC, especially on the eve of a general election year. Consider parts of the narrative that have leaked into my ears: the forces that conspired to remove Araraume as chairman of the NNPC board embarked on this journey to limit the extent of opposition to which they would clash in their design to access NNPC election funds ahead of and during the 2023 general election.

Unfortunately for Araraume, he was seen by the forces plotting his ouster as too strong a figure to give in to their schemes so easily. They feared that he would engage in the management of the new NNPC Limited as a profitable business to support the national economy in accordance with the new management philosophy of the restructured company. They feared he could create synergy and partner with management to cement the unusual legacy of profitability that group chief executive Malam Mele Kolo Kyari has begun to build, for the first time in the annals of the NNPC. Already, Kyari, who remains committed to his Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE) program, is a real obstacle to any attempt to turn the NNPC into a slush fund harbinger for the pursuit of general elections as has always been done in the past. The forces, as learned, did not give this as the reason for the proposal to remove Araraume because they knew it would not work with President Buhari.

Certainly, the Transparency component of Kyari’s TAPE agenda, aimed at maintaining a positive image, shared values ​​of integrity and transparency for all stakeholders, is gaining momentum day by day while the Accountability component – to ensure and ensuring compliance with business ethics, policies, regulations and accountability to all stakeholders – is on an upward trajectory. Performance Excellence, designed to root a high level of efficiency anchored on the effective implementation of business processes that would also put in place an appropriate reward system for exceptional workforce performance, became a mantra in the NNPC.

Now adding an Araraume, a shrewd businessman with a knack for profit, to the brick wall of accountability and strict adherence to financial ethics in NNPC’s new business world would certainly be counterproductive to the real gamble of the elementary forces. While the forces accomplished their plot on the wings of nebulous justifications, I’m sure President Buhari had nothing against Araraume, otherwise he would not have approved his appointment to the NNPC board in the first place. , let alone endorse his choice for chairman of the board and have it proclaimed. On the contrary, the President feared that the subsequent delay in the inauguration of the Council had the potential to roll back the gains and increased confidence of investors in the oil industry who witnessed his assent to the bill on the oil industry. oil industry (GDP) to become an act. This was, as we learned, the main reason why the President would have approved the upgrading of Senator Margery Okadigbo from the South East Zone so that the council could start.

Although the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors still belongs to the Southeast Zone, Araraume’s withdrawal was a loss for Imo, and perhaps not necessarily a personal loss given the magnitude of his achievements. and his growing business empire. The vine wanted the forces to not be able to, in effect, implicate Araraume or the other members of the Board of Directors in shady business to validate a case of a general dissolution of the Board. Had the president bowed to the forces’ plot to collaterally damage the council headed by Araraume, he (the council) would have been disbanded and Senator Margery Okadigbo may not be president today, so to speak.

Let us now consider the conclusion of the whole matter: still leaning on the vine, it is hereby concluded that the primary target of the deliberate and concerted, though unsuccessful, conspiracy to dissolve the council and put in place a new council was in fact Araraume, who not, in their calculations, play ball at the right time to facilitate the opening of the NNPC coffers for the financing of the general elections of 2023. And while they failed on their plan A, they reverted to plan B which was to single out Araraume for an unjust reward for committing the imagined offense that he was too strong to lend himself to control of their forces whose agenda is to mindlessly ‘pillage’ the NNPC on the pretext of accessing funds from there to pursue the 2023 general election, specifically the presidential election, sancta simplicita.

*** Momodu contributed this piece from Wumba District, Abuja


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