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Nigerian President Replaces Top State Oil Firm Officials

Johnathan Goodluck (file photo)
Johnathan Goodluck (file photo)
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday dismissed the managing director and numerous other top officials of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

A statement from the president’s office said the action was in "furtherance of efforts to achieve greater transparency and accountability in government.”

Butty interview with Bunmi Awoyemi
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The company had been accused of rampant corruption. A parliamentary report released in April concluded the NNPC lost $6.8 billion from 2009 to 2011 through the government’s corruption-laden fuel subsidy program.

Political analyst Bunmi Awoyemi said the sacking of NNPC managing director Austen Oniwon does not mean he was implicated in wrongdoing.

Awoyemi said President Jonathan simply wanted to overhaul the NNPC by injecting new blood into its leadership.

“I think it doesn’t really have anything to do with the managing director himself. I think it has to do with the very corrupt system that NNPC operates. And, I think that it was necessary for the president to get rid [of the] board in order to put in [a] new set of people with a new mindset, a mindset that tackle[s] corruption within the organization,” he said.

Awoyemi said corruption within the Nigerian oil industry had been rampant way before Jonathan came to power and before a recent parliamentary committee report found corruption in the administration of the country’s fuel subsidy program.

“The report mentioned that they [NNPC] owe the government $4.3 billion in subsidy payments because payments were made for oil supply that was never supplied. This was due to the internal corruption within the NNPC which had to do with the collaboration between the NNPC and some of the oil marketers in Nigeria,” Awoyemi said.

He said Jonathan made the right decision by changing the top management of the state-owned oil company. But, Awoyemi said those implicated in milking the system must be prosecuted.

“What is important is to ensure that, if any the officials of the NNPC that have been sacked, if there is any report indicting them, it’s important for the government to make sure that they are prosecuted,” Awoyemi said.