Friday, August 10, 2007
Strong indications emerged on Thursday night that the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Funsho Kupolokun; the Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises, Mrs. Irene Chigbue; and the Director-General of the State Security Service, Col. Kayode Are (rtd), had been relieved of their appointments.
A former staff of Chevron Nigeria Limited, Mr. Alex Nenyim,is said to have been okayed by President Umaru Yar’Adua as Kupolokun’s successor. Nenyim’s appointment would have been announced on Tuesday, but for protests from Ijaw people. The Ijaw were angry that Nenyim, like the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, is an Itsekiri. The appointment of Nenyim is the second time the government would go outside the NNPC’s fold to source for a GMD. The appointment of the immediate past Minister of Energy, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, from the Shell Petroleum Development Company, was the first.
A source, who confided in our correspondent, said the government decided to remove Kupolokun, Chigbue, and Are following recent developments in their parastatals. He said that Yar’Adua opted to dispense with their services after an appraisal meeting on Thursday with his Economic Team and kitchen cabinet.
“At the meeting, it was agreed upon that the officers should be asked to leave,” he said. Although the source was not forthcoming, our correspondent learnt that the government was uncomfortable with the operations of the three agencies, especially the NNPC and the BPE. He said, “The NNPC and its subsidiaries are going to be restructured into a more manageable conglomerate. “The present system of the oil firm makes accountability impossible and it is giving the President too much direct access to oil revenue.” He cited a recent report of the United States Department of Justice which was also exclusively published by THE PUNCH. The department had on July 25 given details of how $6m (about N767.4m) bribe was allegedly offered officials of the NNPC/the National Petroleum Investment Management Services, and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. The bribe was in connection with the award of a $387m Eastern Gas Gathering System Project.
The department also explained that, earlier this year, a US oil services company, Willbros, allegedly paid $10.5m to settle a securities-fraud-class-action lawsuit. It accused the firm of bribing government officials in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nigeria. Another source, who pleaded anonymity, said most oil firms were not pleased with the poor commitment to transparency in the oil sector.
On the removal of the DG of BPE, the source said that it allegedly had to “do with too many controversial transactions by the agency.” He added that the government was embarrassed by the controversy which trailed the sale of the Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries. The refineries were sold for $721m to Blue Star Oil Services Limited, a consortium of companies belonging to billionaire businessmen, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola of the Zenon Group. The government had claimed that due process was not strictly followed by the BPE in selling the refineries. At a public hearing in the House of Representatives, the NNPC publicly admitted that the BPE erred in its decision on the refineries.
The removal of Kupolokun and Chigbue is the climax of speculations in the past few weeks about their fate.
Good riddance to absolutely bad rubbish!
The Special Adviser to the President on Communi-cations, Olusegun Adeniyi, who spoke yesterday on the retention of Chigbue simply said, “as at now, the Director-General of the BPE still remains Mrs. Chigbue. All that you have been reading are speculations. Until there is confirmation, it remains speculation.”
However, the Presidency yesterday confirmed the removal of the incumbent Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engineer Funso Kupolokun, and announced the appointment of Dr. Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi – formerly Deputy Chief of Staff to the President - as Chief Economic Adviser to the President.--- This Day Newspapers, Saturday August 11, 2007.
... and that's coming from the horse's mouth folks!