(Opinion) How PIA Euphoria Overshadows Rot In Port Harcourt Refinery By  Benson Udoh

 

 

The euphoria and the accompanied criticisms  over the recent passage of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021( PIA) and the subsequent ascent by President Muhammadu Buhari, like other major burning national issues in the country  without doubt, has relegated some of the curious and intriguing developments in the Nigeria National Petroleum Company, (NNPC),  to the back seat in the national discuss.

One of such curious and intriguing  developments that was overshadowed by the passage of the PIA, was the unilateral grant of Extension of Service(EoS) to Engineer Ahmed Dikko , the Managing Director of the Port Harcourt  Refining  Company Limited ( PHRC) .

Although one may argued that there is nothing unusual about extending the tenure of service  of  public officers, but it must be noted,  that such extensions  are usually granted  or done in situations where there are no competent hands to immediately fill the vacuum that may be created by the outgoing officer or officers  and secondly but more importantly,  the officer whose tenure is sought to be elongated must have been outstanding in the performance of his duties and as well be upright.

Unfortunately  Engineer Ahmed Dikko can not be said to be in these  categories of public servants as he failed to scale  the  hurdles while presiding over  the Port Harcourt Refinery as the Managing Director.

In the first place there are well trained and experienced personnel with ideas and skills  within  NNPC and its subsidiaries  to take  over from Engineer Ahmed Dikko.

Secondly, The tenure of Engineer Dikko as the Managing Director of PHRC was alleged to have been tainted with  several behind the scene  deals which are detrimental to the Economic interest of both the country and the NNPC.
No wonder several groups and experts  within the Petroleum Industry have continued  to  criticise the grant of extension of his service and also call for his resignation.
However, the uproar  that greeted the extension a few months ago has been doused by the euphoria of the signing of the PIA by the president.

Prominent among the alleged underhand deals under Ahmed Dikko as MD of PHRC was the unilateral sale, without any  recourse  to the board of NNPC of 30, 000, 000 litres of Slop Oil to Yunusawa Petroleum Resources Limited for the sum of N1, 890, 000.000 in October 2020.

Yunusawa Petroleum Resources Limited, according to source , was alleged to be one of those companies formed by top  insiders within NNPC  and their  cronies for the purpose of  running deals that are commonplace  within the corporation  and its subsidiaries.

It was  gathered that the illegal sales of the 30,000,000 litres of  Slop Oil to Yunusawa Petroleum Resources Limited by the Port Harcourt Refinery under Engineer Ahmed Dikko  got exposed,   when the company did not have the carriage capacity to lift the allocated Slop Oil and had to advertise on the internet for an off taker.

It was the advertisement for an off taker of the product online by Yunusawa Petroleum  Resources Limited that exposed the deal, consequent upon which the NNPC board had to cancel the sale after a query had been issued on the illegal sale.

Upon the discovery of the illegal sale of the Slop Oil to Yunusawa Petroleum Resources Limited, the  Management  of the NNPC had to stop the sale and ordered a new bidding process which must follow normal  due process.

Consequently, after the completion of the new round of  bidding process,  Messrs SignOil and Gas Limited emerged as the preferred bidder and winner of the bid on the 22nd day  of June 2021 with a bid price of N3, 330, 000, 000 for the same 30,000,000 litres of Slop Oil which Engineer Ahmed Dikko unilaterally and illegally  sold to Yunusawa Petroleum Resources Limited for N1, 890, 000.000 in October 2020.

The implication of this is that if the illegal sales has not been detected, the country would have been shortchanged by a huge sum of N1, 440, 000,000

There is no doubt that the negative impact of the illegal sales of the 30,000,000 litres of Slop Oil on both the NNPC , it’s management as well as the country’s economy  is monumental.

Although other writers have expressed their views in their  different write ups on the issue.

However, one of the major effect of the illegal sale  is the circumvention of due process which is common place  in NNPC  and the loss of revenue to country to the tune  of N1,440,000,000 under Engineer Ahmed Dikko at  a period the country is in dare need of  resources to fund its budget.

There is no gain saying that Engineer Ahmed Dikko’s action by the illegal sale of the Slop Oil without recourse to the NNPC board amounted to serious economic sabotage which would have warranted serious sanctions in some sane societies,  rather than being rewarded with elongation of tenure.

The other negative impact created by the illegal and unilateral  sale of  the 30,000,000  litres  Slop Oil on the board of the NNPC was however, reflected, albeit wrongly , in an online publication, by Emmanuel Mayah  published on July 22, 2021, wherein it was stated that  ” industry players said the only reason the NNPC GMD and the COO Refinery  can possibly gave for approving the export of Slop Oil is that the Corporation is broke and in need of money”

Some Industry players whose views were sought on the issue of tenure Extension  for Engineer Ahmed Dikko as MD of Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited lamented that it is only in Nigeria that people are rewarded for running down  public and private institutions and still get accolades for it.

They added that why things are not working in the country is because the system seems to reward indolence rather than merit.

Apart from the issue of illegal sales of  30,000,000  litres of Slop Oil  to Yunusawa Petroleum Resources Limited, there are other documents concerning the underhand deals at the Port Harcourt Refinery which the management of NNPC has refused or neglected to take appropriate action on.

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