Falana Reasons behind lawyer's statement 'NNPC restructuring is illegal'

Following the suggested reorganisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana on Thursday, March 10, 2016 described the corporation's reforms as illegal.

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Human Rights Activist, Femi Falana

(Nigerian Current)
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Following the suggested reorganisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana on Thursday, March 10, 2016 described the corporation's reforms as illegal.

Referring to the section 2 of the Nigerian National Petroleum Act, Falana explained that the Board of Directors of could not conduct the affairs of the corporation. He insinuated that Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources who is also a member of the board could not split the corporation into smaller fractions.

“It is pertinent to point out that the reforms being carried out by the NNPC GMD are illegal in every material particular. Section 2 of the Nigerian National Petroleum Act stipulates that the Board of Directors of the body shall conduct the affairs of the corporation. To that extent, it is the board of the corporation that is saddled with the responsibility to carry out the reorganisation of the body.

“The board of the NNPC shall consist of the Minister of Petroleum Resources; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance; the managing director of the corporation and three other persons appointed by the President. The minister shall be the chair of the board. By virtue of Section 3 of the Act, the managing director of the NNPC shall be the chief executive and shall be responsible for the execution of the policy of the corporation and the day-to -day running of its activities.”

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Falana explained that Kachukwu functioning as both General Managing Director of NNPC and the Minister of Petroleum has contributed to the illegality, as he functions as both the ‘executor’ and ‘regulator’ of the affairs of the corporation.

It is an anomalous situation whereby the minister, as the chairman of the NNPC board, is supervising his own activities as the GMD of the NNPC. Whereas the GMD is required to carry out the decisions of the board chaired by the minister, Dr. Kachukwu has become the executor and regulator of the affairs of the corporation. The Federal Government should take advantage of this crisis to put an end to the incongruity.

In the same vein, the body established by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency Act to regulate the supply and distribution of petroleum products in the country is equally run by a sole administrator contrary to the provisions of the enabling law.

Whereas the agency shall have a board of 26 members, including the representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and the trade unions in the oil and gas industry, the body is run singlehandedly by the executive secretary. Despite the several calls by the Nigeria Labour Congress and other stakeholders, the Federal Government has not deemed it fit to reconstitute the board of the PPPRA.

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“In an atmosphere of impunity, petroleum products are sold even though there is the Petroleum Equalisation Fund set up under the law to reimburse marketing companies for any loss sustained by them as a result of the sale of petroleum products at uniform prices throughout the country. Apart from the occasional sealing up of a few filling stations by the Department of Petroleum Resources for selling above the official price, the Petroleum Equalisation Fund has never been cautioned by the Federal Government.”

Furthermore, the board of the PPPRA should be reconstituted, while the PEF should be made to discharge its statutory duty of ensuring uniformity in the prices of petroleum products throughout the country,” he stated.

According to recent reports black market merchants in Lagos, Abuja and other cities, are currently selling Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol in Nigeria within N200 and N300 per litre.

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