NNPC Ltd.: Group urges Buhari to inaugurate board

President Muhammadu Buhari

A Civil Society Organisation, Partners for Petroleum and Energy Sector Prosperity Initiative (P-PESPI), has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, to inspire investors’ confidence in the country’s petroleum sector.

The group made the call in a statement on Tuesday, in Abuja by its Chairman, Mr Charles Ibiang.

It would be recalled that Buhari had in September appointed the new board members of the NNPC limited with a two-year timeline for the company to be incorporated.

Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume was appointed as Chairman of the board, while the NNPC Group Managing Director, Malam Mele Kyari,  and Umar Ajiya would serve as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, respectively.

Other board members appointed were Tajudeen Umar (North-East), Lami Ahmed (North-Central), Mohammed Lawal (North-West), Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South-East), Constance Harry-Marshal (South-South), and Pius Akinyelure (South-West).

The inauguration of the board by the president was scheduled to hold on Nov. 24 but was subsequently suspended indefinitely.

Ibiang, however, said the uncertainty surrounding the inauguration could negatively affect investment in the industry as investors and foreign investment capital were attracted to more stable, legal and regulatory regime where profit is maximum.

He also said; “Investors invest where sanctity of contracts are respected, and when there are breaches, remedies are well spelt out in the laws.”

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According to Ibiang, the 1.04 billion dollars deal between Afreximbank and NNPC signed in November during the 2nd Intra-Africa trade fair in South Africa, is one of such deals which can be affected when things go wrong in the NNPC Limited.

“P-PESPI, regrettably observed, that the suspension of the inauguration of the NNPC Ltd Board is worrisome to stakeholders and is capable of casting doubt in the minds of the Investors, whether Nigeria is ready to allow NNPC Ltd transition to a commercially viable private company without unnecessary political interference.

“Therefore, the boost NNPC Ltd requires at this very time is certainty.

“The quick inauguration of the NNPC Ltd Board will help establish leadership stability and give reassurances to partnership which is the operating models in the petroleum sector is a working system and well protected by law.

“Aside regulations, leadership stability is key to attracting and sustaining investments,” Ibiang said.

The P-PEPSI Chairman emphasised that NNPC Ltd under the leadership of GMD Mele Kyari is robustly engaging and positioning the post Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) National Oil Company as a choice destination for foreign capital investments and investors.

“The certainty in the fiscal and regulatory petroleum sector environment, occasioned by the new PIA is a sure incentive for foreign Capital investment.

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“So, many upstream activities showing a lot of impetus to commence operations left in the past and are scrambling to control a junk of the downstream market share of our huge petroleum market.

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“The transparency and openness by which NNPC has recently anchored her operations against the former opaque regime is encouraging to the global energy investments eco-system.

“A lot of FID on multi billion dollars projects in the upstream, mid-stream and downstream sectors of the petroleum industry are warming up and waiting to be signed.

“But the suspension of the board’s inauguration is threatening these milestones achieved so far by the Buhari-led administration,” he added.

Ibiang commended the president for the urgency and tact in the signing into law of the PIA, and urged him to apply such speed to the inauguration of the board of the NNPC Ltd.

This, he said would consolidate investors’ confidence which would in turn attract more investments in the oil and gas company.