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OPINION

Baru’s transformational reforms In NNPC

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By Kingsley Ukah

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been depicted by its implacable critics as a cesspool of corruption and for a good measure too. Over the years arguably, no agency has the axiomatic Nigerian strand of sleaze been more manifest than the state owned Oil giant whose reputation has been tarnished by unrelenting criticism of its less than transparent operations.

At the height of this reign of impunity and vast corruption, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the present Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had in 2014, accused the NNPC of failing to remit $20 billion into the coffers of government. This was during the era of high Oil prices. He had also complained about the lack of transparency in the operations of the subsidy payment regime and was booted out of office for blowing the whistle on corruption.

Recently, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi took a potshot at the present management of NNPC when he said that only an angel may be able to run the Corporation. Sanusi said “I have not seen a change in laws or regulations that will institutionalize changes that make it impossible for things to be done.”

Sanusi’s sabre rattling may play into the narrative that corruption is alive and well under the present administration in spite of the unwavering commitment of the Buhari administration to deal a mortal blow on pandemic corruption, the archetypal monster that has stymied our development. Given empirical evidence and ongoing efforts by the present management of NNPC under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru, the Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Sanusi’s criticism is premised on a lack of full information and therefore misplaced.

Four years out of government is quite a long time. The revered royal father saddled with the onerous task of administering a sophisticated emirate such as Kano may have been so overwhelmed by the task at hand that he is clearly out of touch with reality. And given the not too long enviable reputation of NNPC especially under the past administrations, the use of the brush of corruption to wrongly paint the present NNPC and its management as corrupt may be overlooked by a gullible citizenry.

But it is certainly uncharitable and unfair to throw a spanner in the works especially when Baru and his management are working round the clock to turn around the fortunes of the Corporation. Asking angels to intervene in the affairs of men is not only escapist but defeatist. As a nation, we are blessed with honest hardworking leaders, who though may be in the minority are on daily basis given their best for the good of the nation.

When Baru was appointed the Group Managing Director of NNPC in 2016, he was not under any illusion as to the formidable challenges and task ahead. He inherited a Corporation in decay and in dire need of a new direction. Independent agencies such as the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) had raised the alarm about the lack of transparency and massive corruption in the Corporation. On assumption of office, Baru demonstrated the uncommon determination to steer a new and refreshing course for NNPC. In line with the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration, he unveiled a well thought out 12-point agenda designed to cleanse the Augean Stable and reinvigorate the Corporation. The 12-point agenda include the creation of an all-inclusive internal advisory council on security comprising representatives from NNPC, the IOCs, the Unions and security operatives to brainstorm and address host community agitations, implementation of new business models to grant needed autonomy to the strategic business units and autonomous business units within the corporation, provision of directions and control to ensure their growth and profitability. Baru also pledged to continue to explore ways of relieving government from the burden of cash calls obligation and to address and defray the agreed call arrears of the IOCs  and restore Oil and gas production and grow the reserve portfolio.

He also pledged to focus on increasing crude oil production by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, review all weak contractual agreements and terminate bad ones as appropriate, leverage on equity positions to cause the development of key gas assets for both domestic and export, repair and restore Oil and gas pipeline infrastructure. Baru also promised to improve the refining efficiency of the four existing refineries to pave way for future expansion, pursue diversification of business by refocusing on the implementation of renewable energy programmes and frontier exploration services and to continue to ensure service delivery, entrench the culture of professionalism through transparency and accountability.

The 12-point agenda as enunciated by Baru is ambitious, revolutionary and represents a concerted effort to make a clean break with the past. Under his guidance, NNPC commenced and completed the repair of critical Oil and gas infrastructure leading to the deferment of about 700,000 bopd. The Corporation commenced and completed the repair of the vandalized 36” and 42” IT Export pipeline leading to the restoration of production operations from NNPC/MPN.

In 2016, when he took over the helm of affairs at NNPC, the national daily average production stood at 1.83 million barrel, in 2017, it rose to about 1.88 million barrels and in 2018 the nation had achieved its projected target of 2.2 million barrels of Oil and condensate per day occasioned by the improvement in security and the resumption of production operations in the forcados Oil Terminal (FOT) and Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT) pipelines. By June 28th, 2017, NNPC attained a record peak production of 2.3 million barrels of oil and condensate per day. Under the leadership and guidance of Baru, the repayment agreement for JV cash call arears has been negotiated and executed for arrears has been negotiated and executed for arrears up to end 2015 all the IOC partners in NNPC’s JVCs.

NNPC anchored repayment on incremental production. Also, for 2016, JV cash call shortfall, $400 million was paid to JV partners as a bullet payment in April, 2017 – with the balance to be paid in twelve installments. This commitment has rekindled the confidence the nation’s JV partners in pursuing new projects, thus enabling the transition into the self-funding models for cash-calls financed by NNPC/CNL JV of project Cheata which was oversubscribed. Driven by the desire to save cost, NNPC renegotiated upstream contracts and obtained discounts of over $2billion from various service providers to stem high production costs. In addition, Baru ensured the cancellation of all non performing agreements and continued to pursue all outstanding payments due to government.

In the gas sector, NNPC has significantly increased gas supply to power plants and industries. This achievement was made possible as a result of the completion of the repairs of vandalized 20” ELPS – A pipeline which ramped up Chevron Escravos Gas Plants that were hitherto shutdown. These include Oredo Gas Plant, Sapele Gas Plant, Ovade Gas Plant and Oben and NGC Gas Compressors. Baru has addressed the issue of condensate evacuation that had restricted the issue of condensate evacuation that had restricted the ramping up of gas supply from Oben, Utorogu and Ughelli gas plants. NNPC have also commissioned NPDC’s Utorogu NAG-2 and Oredo EPF-2 gas plants.

Under the leadership and guidance of Baru, there has been exponential growth in domestic gas supply. NNPC has also made significant progress in the seven (7) critical Gas Supply Development projects with approval of consultants to support the projects.

In the downstream sector, NNPC stabilized the market with sufficient product availability nationwide. Through the concerted efforts of Baru and his team, the modest refining efforts of NNPC and the DSDP Scheme saved the nation about 40 billion in 2017. The resuscitation of products transportation pipelines network has enabled NNPC to move products to depots at faster and cheaper rates.

In spite of the string of impressive achievements scored by NNPC under the guidance of Baru, challenges still remain. The issue of subsidy payment has remained a recurring decimal. There is a consensus of opinion that racketeering which is widely believed to have bedeviled the subsidy regime has impoverished Nigerians. Despite aspersions cast on the NNPC from certain quarters, Baru insists that he and his team are above board in their dealings. The present NNPC management has consistently stated that all subsidy claims and entitlements by NNPC are duly verified and approved by PPPRA and relevant certificates issued.

In the same vein, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has explained the NNPC is under recovering costs being the sole importers of the petroleum products which it also sells below the cost price. In defence of NNPC and the truth, she stated that technically there is no longer subsidy payments to Oil and marketers as in the past since the NNPC bears the cost of the difference between the N145 pump and the actual landing cost of the product which in some cases stand at N180 per litre. She said “Now, when there is talk of payment of subsidy, technically there is no subsidy, but there is under-recovery.”

The failure of the four local refineries to produce enough fuel for local consumption has cast a long shadow on the concerted efforts by Baru and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to bring about a positive change. For years the refineries have been largely comatose. Within the last three years, a lot of work has been done to revive obsolete facilities in the sector. The petroleum ministry under the leadership of Ibe Kachikwu and the NNPC under the guidance of Baru are working hard to re-position and revamp the refineries  through massive refurbishing of the refineries and strategic partnerships. By 2019, it is expected that these concerted efforts will lead to  Nigeria being self-sufficient in refining petroleum products.

The achievements recorded by NNPC under the guidance of Maikanti Baru was made possible through the concerted effort of a Nigerian patriot not by an angel. The situation in NNPC is not perfect, no human institution is put clearly  Baru and his 12-point agenda is beginning to yield the desired results, to spur a paradigm shift. It was in recognition of his patriotic service to Nigeria and his untiring efforts to reposition the NNPC that he was awarded the Forbes Best of Africa Oil &Gas Man of the Year Prize. According to Forbes, it had followed with keen interest the rising profile and impressive career path of the NNPC GMD through the years. Forbes further stated: “For these and other landmark achievements which you have recorded throughout your enviable career, your nomination for this Prestigious Forbes 2017 Award has been approved by Forbes Custom’s Award Committee.

These and other prestigious awards in recognition of the ongoing revolution in NNPC, it is hoped will spur Baru to greater heights as he seeks to re-position NNPC and bring it to global acclaim in the service of Nigeria and humanity.

 Ukah wrote in from Lagos 

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NEWS

Kogi East Senate: The risk of PDP choosing Attai Aidoko, By Idris Omahi

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Jim Rohn, an American author and motivational speaker once said, “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”

This seems to be the dilemma of the people of Kogi East Senatorial District of Kogi State. From one political dispensation to another, they have been forced to settle for an ordinary representation in the National Assembly – the kind that has added very little or nothing to their quality of living.

Another season of decision making is fast approaching; a season where making the wrong choice of who will represent them this time around will consign them to yet another four years of perpetual retrogression. So, as the buildup to the general elections gathers momentum, the people of Kogi East Senatorial District are praying; those who know how to fast are resorting to that. But the prayer point is that God should bring a messiah (or messiahs) who will speak for them confidently at the National Assembly and the district will bounce back to reckoning.

The name, Senator Attai Aidoko, is not new to those who have followed the politics of Kogi State for close to two decades. If not for anything else, he will always be remembered for representing Kogi East at the National Assembly for 16 years (House of Representatives – eight years and in the Senate for another eight years) with nothing to show.

He had earlier  represented Ankpa/Omala/Olamaboro Federal Constituency from 2003 to 2011. And the people have said the only dividends of democracy accruing from his representation are seeing his fine face when another election season is approaching, and of course, listening to political sweet nothings when their votes are solicited the next time.

They have said between 2011 and 2018 (going to 2019), they have searched and searched, and continued to search, but the senator cannot be tagged with any meaningful development in any part of Kogi East Senatorial District, not even with his influence as chairman, Senate Committee on SEGS.

One of his townsmen summed up their frustration recently. He was quoted as saying, “The only stream sustaining our community and the neighborhood and is about four kilometers away. Aidoko is far from our challenges because he only comes here in the night and disappear before dawn since he became a senator.  As you can see we have no potable water, no electricity and other basic infrastructures.”

Even the boys are not smiling at the moment. Igala youths recently spoke the minds of the entire youths of the district. According to them, the senator is a liability on the good people of Kogi East and he has no political relevance in both the region and at the national level. The youths are crying out, very loud at that, that as the longest-serving federal lawmaker from Kogi East, he has serially failed them “in terms of good legislation, provision of amenities through constituency projects and youth empowerment.”

They continued by saying, “We can’t continue to wallow in this politics of stagnation where some wicked few individuals will gather together to oppose everything that is good for our land.

“Our region has suffered so much neglect despite the fact that we have several opportunities to develop, but we have been suffering so much neglect because of the attitude of some of our leaders.”

The Kogi East people are going, albeit caps in hands to God, to the gods, and to whatever power they believe in, to yarn some miracle intervention of sorts, so that as the Peoples Democratic Party is choosing its candidates in Kogi East, they should settle with a quality candidate who will better their lots, who will be their voice when other brand-new senators take their hallowed seats in the hallowed chamber.

Anything less than a suitable candidate will attract rebellion from the voters, and the people, especially if the current occupant gets the ticket. You see, the people have been bitten more than twice. Who knows, they may be shy the next time they are bitten. Even as they do not trust the All Progressives Congress promise-and-fail kind of politics, chances are that they may rather feel comfortable with it by offering their protest votes to an APC candidate possibly coming from Dekina or the Idah axis of the zone. If for any reason the incumbent senator returns to contest on the platform of PDP, chances are Dekina/Basa will go for APC, Idah Federal Constituency will go for APC and Ankpa/Omala will go for APC. Though, this will bring a new chapter of failed promises, it could be the last resort just to teach the party delegates a lesson.

PDP in the Kogi East is in need of a new face who can energize their base. There is so much anxiety at the moment because the current occupant as a product is not strong enough to move market for the party in the face of the electorate. Just think of it, he has never won the primaries. He gets the ticket through the back door.

Another burning issue that may consume the PDP in Kogi East is the marginalization of the Idah axis of the zone. Kogi East Senatorial district has nine local government areas and three federal constituencies. They include the Idah axis: Idah, Ibaji, Igalamela/Odolu and Ofu; Dekina axis: Dekina, Bassa and the Ankpa axis which consists of the Ankpa, Olamaboro and Omala.

The choices before the political class and the electorate are between progress and retrogression, unity and disunity, equity and inequity; and of course a wide prospect of prosperity for millions and not just the elite few.

Between 1999 and 2003, Dr. Alex Kadiri, a Dekina citizen was elected into the senate. Senator Nicholas Ugbane also from Dekina succeeded Dr Alex Kadiri and served in the senate for eight consecutive years. The zoning formula favoured Dekina yet again in the race for Lugard House which led to the emergence of Captain Idris Wada as governor of Kogi State.

Similarly, Ankpa Federal Constituency has also been largely favoured since the return to democratic rule. Alhaji Ibrahim Idris governed for nine years. Senator Attai Aidoko, another native of Ankpa Federal Constituency has been in the National Assembly since 2003.

Barr. Dangana Ocheja was elected in 2011. His representation was truncated by Attai Aidoko Ali through the judiciary after just six months. The implication is that since 1999, Idah Federal Constituency (comprising Idah/Ofu/Igalamela-Odolu/Ibaji) despite its massive voter strength has not produced a senator. This clearly indicates that equity has been conspicuously overlooked in favour of marginalisation.

One may argue that several indigenes of Idah Federal Constituency were beneficiaries of high-profile political appointments. But we need to remember that an appointment is a prerogative of the chief executive and is not necessarily a true representation of the desire of the masses.

Back in 1999, President Obasanjo appointed Dr. Eyitayo Lambo and Bayo Ojo as Minister of Health and Attorney General and Minister of Justice respectively. Both were from Kabba town. The office of the deputy governor today is the outcome of a doctrine of necessity by the powers that be and not a product of consensual agreement by Igala political stakeholders. Deputy Governor Simon Achuba was forcefully shoved down the throats of the people and they were forced to swallow without complaints.

The clamour for a Kogi East senator of Idah extraction has never been this deafening. It is a major topic of discussion where two or more are gather. If the leaders of the PDP in Kogi State are serious about balancing this highly lopsided senatorial representation in 2019, and are also serious about retaining the massive votes of Idah, Igalamela-Odolu/Ofu/Ibaji citizens, then, they must act quickly and smartly to exterminate the political oppression, subjugation and marginalisation that has been handed down on these politically sensitive people for so long.

Idah Federal constituency has one of the largest voting population in Kogi State. Collection of PVC in the four local government areas has been impressive. If the leadership of the PDP is thinking about zoning the senate to another constituency besides Idah in 2019, they should have a rethink. Several able-bodied individuals with vast experience and impeccable records of hard work, honesty and credibility are very ready and willing to join the senatorial race in 2019.

The “systematic marginalisation” of Idah Federal Constituency must be brought to a halt. The recycling of “expired” familiar names with dismal performances in the senate must also stop. Fresh ideas, fresh approach and better results in 2019 are what the Kogi East people demand and Idah Federal Constituency has a large pool of intelligent, honest and hardworking persons that are ready, able and willing to do the job.

The people know this. The party knows this. Apparently, our distinguished senator himself is well aware. That explains the reason he has been going from pillar to post, seeking crude means to actualize his dream of going back to the senate to warm the seat on behalf of the Kogi East people. Perhaps that was the motive behind his alleged enlisting of more than a dozen propagandists to carry out a smear campaign so as to truncate the ambition of other leading aspirants in the race.

A whopping N20 million, according to reports was given to a party chieftain to facilitate this smear campaign. And part of their briefs was to make the party hierarchy see other leading aspirants as impostors and agents of the opposition and this involved writing several anonymous letters to some party stakeholders.

The leaders of the party are aware of Aidoko’s desperation, that is why they said no to an automatic ticket for our dear senator. They rather expect Senator Aidoko to test his popularity and make his achievements open doors for him if he has done well for his constituency. But the senator is not resting in his oars.

He is making every effort to return to the senate and elongate the suffering period of Kogi East people. This time, the people will resist him with their precious votes.

 

–      Omahi, a political analyst writes from Idah, Kogi State, Nigeria. 081222016330.

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OPINION

The future of Kogi East and Victor Adoji’s aspiration, By Omachi Achor

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Ever since Kogi State was created, our pending problems have always been our inability to provide or elect for ourselves a good and responsible government that will always react adequately to the problems of the state and also proffer lasting solutions to these problems as they develop.

This political lack, failure and inability have not only permitted the several underdevelopment we are faced with presently as a state, but have gone a long way to putting the state in perpetual poverty.

As pitiful as this situation becomes every day, Kogi East that has been one of the most privileged constituency in the state has suffered the most, basically because this constituency has often been represented by timid, shortsighted, selfish and “un-purposeful” politicians.

And it is so shameful to admit here that today, Kogi East is one of the most underdeveloped constituencies in the North Central, in spite of all its rich resources, political strength and even manpower.

Having looked at this it has become very necessary that we team up as a people and sought for a better representation this time around, through which we can redirect our constituency towards a more visible development and secure a better future for ourselves and our children.

But in order to achieve this, we must be willing to look beyond personal interests, relationships and even affiliations.

We must be willing to ignore veteran politics, politics of hate and fully resist the ideas of automatic ticket and godfatherism and embrace a more democratic individual who can harness all our resources and channel them towards a more productive end. We must try to instate an individual who sincerely understands what is really at stake and will pull all the necessary parliamentary strings to ensure that the Kogi East situation is salvaged.

We must at a time like this be willing to only rally round a more focused individual who is strong and passionate in will, in ideas, in foresight, in vision, in persistence, in concern and in all forms of political sensitivity.

The legislature is a reasoning and talking arm of government, therefore we must present someone who is vocally strong, critical and analytically precise; someone who understands the language of the hallowed chamber and is equally knowledgeable on the rich essence of the Nigerian federal character and the Nigerian legislative visions.

Our focus and support must be for someone who can influence the nation and also endear the constituency to the federal government in order to attract national investment, human development and all forms of basic amenities.

And without mincing words, VICTOR ALEWO ADOJI has been able to assemble all these political virtues, thoughts and vision, he has been able to shape his political aspirations towards these defined ideas.

And a vote for him is a vote for a more accountable representation; it is a vote for a more people-oriented legislature; it is a vote for a more productive government and a more secure future for our constituency.

It is not just the passionate efforts to rescue Kogi East that distinguishes this aspirant, but the legislative guts that categorises his thoughts, his industrious views, the persistent nature of his positive desires for Kogi East and his well-groomed commitment that will dictate every beat of his political aspiration are indeed very worthy of note.

Like I always say, it is not about party, it is not about incumbency or veteran politics, it is about will, resourcefulness, accountability, foresight, intent, sacrifice, wealth of knowledge, humanitarian ideas, societal concerns and sensitiveness to the basic needs of the present Kogi East.

VICTOR ALEWO ADOJI is obviously willing to serve and redeem our constituency. It is now left for us to embrace this new future and save Kogi East.

Our future is now in our hands, and we must secure it this time.

Omachi Isaac Achor writes from Lokoja, Kogi State

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OPINION

A call on FG to sack Funke Osibodu’s BEDC for gross incompetence, By Zik Gbemre

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Mrs. Funke Osibodu, Managing Director/CEO, BEDC

 

Zik Gbemre

We have countlessly reiterated the fact that the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), has proven over the years that they do not have the financial capacity and technical expertise to manage and distribute power within the States under their jurisdiction, especially within Warri and environs of Delta State. When a so-called power distribution company depends on its consumers to buy transformer and electric wiring apparatus before they will distribute power to them, then something is wrong.

In fact, it has been noted that since one Mrs. Funke Osibodu took over the affairs of BEDC in the four States under them, which includes Delta, Edo, etc., no single transformer has been given to any Community. Rather, it has been individuals, who have donated transformers to various Communities for the BEDC to distribute power to them. They also do not have concrete electric polls, feeder pillars, etc. in their offices to address power issues affecting their customers. It is being alleged that as at today, over Seventy Thousand (70,000) pre- paid meters that were supposed to be given to consumers, are locked up at one Nekpen- Nekpen complex in Benin, Edo State.

As a result of this, many, including us, are resisting and calling on the Federal Government and relevant authorities in the Federal Ministry of Power, to stop/deny the renewal of BEDC as a power distribution company. BEDC should be sacked and shown the way out as a power distribution company. And the Federal Government should take over the BEDC and run it with a Federal Interim Power Distribution Management Board, pending when a capable distribution company is directed to takeover after due assessment, due diligence and financial capacity of the new company must been satisfactorily carried out.

It is obvious that the BEDC came on board because they thought that they had the capacity and capability to distribute power. But now that it is apparently clear that they do not have such capacity and capability, the best option is for the Federal Government to take over the BEDC and run it for some time before they get another company that can deliver as expected. We all know that power is key to the development of any country, hence we cannot have mediocrity and inefficiency in the delivery of such a vital public service, by the BEDC. How can supposed power distribution company be waiting for its consumers to buy transformers for them to use for distribution of electricity?

All those consumers that are connected to 33kv lines in Warri and environs for instance, were the ones who bought transformers for BEDC to work with. Some big hotels and rich individuals/landlords in some layouts in Effurun-Warri, had to buy the transformers that were used by BEDC to hook them up to 33kv lines. The question is, how many people can afford to buy transformers to be installed for their own use, and at the same time, pay for the power supply to the BEDC who cannot provide the said transformers.

Is that what is obtainable in other civilized societies? Should this be encouraged as the norm? Obviously not! The Federal Government and relevant authorities need to investigate the activities of the BEDC and they will ascertain the above stated facts. As such, we urge that the BEDC should be sacked as requested. It is in the best interest of the Nigerian people living and doing businesses in the States under them.

 

Gbemre writes from Warri, Delta State

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