Nigeria: NNPC's Strive for Greater Transparency

11 June 2019

The general consensus is that in broad terms, transparency leads to greater accountability and often reduces corruption.

According to the World Bank, transparency is about publishing information, but it's also about inviting people in, to use the information in creative ways.

Indeed, transparency is a fundamental requirement for the reliability and integrity of public institutions and it helps in promoting public trust and public support. It also guarantees legal assurance and increases the level of legitimacy in decision-making process in public sector.

Similarly, transparency in public administration has a great impact in the process of public administration reform and promotes efficiency, effectiveness and responsiveness.

That is why the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has continued to receive commendation as it continues to take steps in promoting transparency.

This clearly manifested in the corporation's recent recruitment process.

The computer-based test (CBT) was the first time such an exercise would take place at the corporation - through advertisement and invitation for written test before oral interview- all being conducted in-house without the use of consultants.

In fact, history was made and it is something other government agencies must copy.

The corporation also gave an indication that it would be looking into complaints of some of the over 60,000 applicants seeking for employment.

Some of the candidates for the CBT in Abuja had expressed frustrations over 'technical glitches and timing out' before the allotted time.

A handful of the applicants at the Abuja centers in Gawarimpa and Jabi areas, had said their computers logged them out about 30 minutes before the time allotted lapsed.

But, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, in his desire to carry out a transparent recruitment exercise promised to look into the complaints of some of the candidates.

Baru, had said he has directed a "fair assessment' of all those with genuine complaints.

"I will check and since they are many will direct a fair resolution: to grade them based on what they were able to attempt for the time they spent," the GMD replied in a text message.

"I have already directed COO, CS to consider the grading to the few affected & lodged the complaint to their invigilators/supervisors," he had said.

Mallam Isa Muhammad Inuwa, who is the Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services (COO, CS).

However, thousands of applicants commended the NNPC for a transparent selection for the CBT.

Clearly, Baru and his management are working round the clock to turn around the fortunes of the corporation.

When he was appointed in 2016, he inherited a corporation in decay and in dire need of a new direction.

In line with the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration, he unveiled a 12-point agenda designed to cleanse and revive the corporation.

The 12-point agenda represented 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 bpd. The corporation commenced and completed the repair of the vandalised 36" and 42" IT Export pipeline leading to the restoration of production operations from NNPC/MPN.

He has remained focus in ensuring that transparency and accountability are entrenched at the NNPC.

Baru recently said the NNPC is currently among the most transparent in the country considering the achievements recorded in recent time.

He had stated that efforts were on to disabuse the mind-set of Nigerians that wrong things were happening at the NNPC.

Represented by the Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, NNPC, Mr. Mele Kyari, at a recent forum, the NNPC boss had argued that things had taken a turn for the better at the national oil firm, especially in the last three years.

Baru stated, "We have never had it so good in this country in the last two years in terms of transparency of our transactions, validation of our activities, the unfettered and unobstructed participation of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who has never asked us to do anything different.

"Today, we need to get people out of the mind-set that something wrong is happening in the NNPC. Nothing wrong is happening. We have passed that stage. We are now probably one of the most transparent companies in this country."

He added, "We have seen a number of governments; worked with a number of them, but probably, we have not had the opportunity to put our cards on the table as we did in the last two years. That makes it easy for us to align with the EITI's objectives and opportunities that are there to do even greater things for our country.

In his own presentation at the event, Kyari stated that since May 2015, the oil firm had taken several measures to promote transparency, such as the elimination of dual pricing for domestic crude allocation and automation of its transactions.

He said the NNPC had increased the auditing of its operations, including third party and the direct sale of crude oil to refineries, reputable traders, upstream companies and Nigerian entities.

In line with its drive to ensure transparency, the corporation had unveiled its group financial statements from 2011 to 2016, which is something rare at the NNPC.

The NNPC said the delivery of the audited financial statements was to help foster better relations with stakeholders and promote transparency and accountability in the corporation. It disclosed that its aim was to achieve a clean slate dated back to August 2015, stating that it inherited a total of 65 unaudited financial statements for the NNPC and its subsidiaries, covering from the previous government.

A statement issued in Abuja by the NNPC's spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, added: "There were, undoubtedly, challenges that led to the backlog, which may have been beyond the control of the previous management. However, the important factor was not to look to the past. We saw an opportunity to challenge the problem and resolved to clear the arrears in the shortest possible time.

"Management achieved the first step of concluding the audit of the 2011 to 2012 financial positions and presented same to the Board in 2016, and in recognition of that modest achievement, the NNPC Board further mandated the management to clear the remaining outstanding reports for the years 2013 to 2016, and the result today is the delivery and Board approval of the audited group financial statements as of December 31, 2016."

Baru had assured that NNPC was on track in respect of the corporation's 12 key Business Focus Areas (BUFA), and the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to improving the status of oil and gas infrastructure through ensuring products availability to support national economic recovery and growth. He lauded the contribution of the corporation's Downstream outfit, NNPC retail, saying it played a significant role in ensuring continuous supply of petroleum products to Nigerians through its Mega, Affiliates and Leased stations.

He said NNPC Retail had transformed from loss making to profitability.

"We are currently planning for a better performance and achievement especially with the continuous innovations and creativity in the downstream sector and the performance bond signed by all the relevant heads of our operating units. Continuous improvement as one of the principles of World Class Organisations remains our key word and we believe, plan and strive to achieve a better performance," Baru added.

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