Nigeria: Addressing Irregularity in the Department of Petroleum Resources

14 January 2020

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) is the Technical Arm of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources saddled with the responsibility of regulating all Oil and Gas resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The DPR also handles both the Upstream and Downstream activities in the Oil and Gas Industry. The Department as a Regulator is statutorily mandated to regulate all the activities of the operators in oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria.

The DPR, given its strategic mandate as a key establishment within the nation's oil industry shouldn't be toyed with, especially in the appointment of its head and day to day running.

Days after President Muhammadu Buhari nullified the suspension of the Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi by the Minister of Power, Alhaji Saleh Mamman, similar development with graver consequences on the activities and morale of staff of the Department of Petroleum Resources has occurred once again..

All was actually going well for the Department until the recent appointment by the Presidency of an Assistant Director, Alhaji Auwalu Sarki to head the agency, a development which has dampened the morale of staff of DPR. The appointment according to insiders is not in tandem with laid down procedures for appointing head of the DPR and should be reversed.

The DPR like other Ministries, Departments and Agencies has stipulated guidelines for the appointments, promotion, discipline and disengagement. All these procedures are contained in the Public Service Rules in the case of the core public service and conditions of service for statutory agencies.

So, what recently happened in the DPR where a junior Assistant Director was announced as Head of the Department where there are several senior Assistant Directors and Deputy Directors who are eminently qualified for the same position is one act that must be discouraged because of its negative consequences.

Ironically, ahead of the newly promoted Assistant Director are about 22 management staff who are above the person chosen by the Federal Government. This is like a dream and surprise to the entire work force whose loyalty was directed to their various Deputy Directors or Divisional Heads and the Acting Director who acted for six (6) months. The Department is still yet to recover from the unjustly treatment and the entire office complex (Headquarters and Other Zonal Offices in the country were like a grave yard when the New Director was announced. Until now, nobody can give you a mental picture of where and how the new headship will drive.

In the Civil Service Rule, any officer who acted for a six (6) good months is ordinarily qualified to be appointed as the substantive but we don't understand why the Deputy Director who acted as acting Director was denied and amongst about Fifth teen (15) other Deputy Directors, none was found fit to pilot the affairs of the Department but rather an Assistant Director who was their far Junior was rather super-imposed on them as their new boss. This is morally wrong, totally unacceptable and should be condemned by all good and well-meaning Nigerians. However, some believed that Mr. President was not fully briefed on this issue by his handlers but it is not late to right the wrong in the system, else, the system may be heading and facing eminent total collapse.

We urge Mr. President to reverse this appointment as it is capable of causing disaffection in the country. We know that the power to hire and fire lies with the President, but in the exercise of this right, the President is expected to act in accordance with laid down procedures. It is in this regards that we call on Mr. President to take a second look at the appointment made at the DPR. Just like the practice in the judiciary and other quarters' too.

As observed recently in the security forces, the Military, the Police Force and other paramilitary agencies, it may be acceptable as common practice or rule of thumb and peculiar to those organizations but certainly not the civil service or every other organization in the country.

Adesoji wrote in from Wuse 2, Abuja

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