Some of the persons appointed into the Board and Management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) are allies of President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, Buhari appointed them in accordance with the power vested on him under Section 59(2) of the Petroleum Industry Act he signed on August 16, 2021.
The president had constituted the board in September but shortly before it was to be inaugurated, he suspended the exercise indefinitely.
No reason was given for the development. But on Wednesday, Adesina announced a major change on the board – the replacement of Senator Ifeanyi Ararume with Lady Margaret Okadigbo. This piece shows how the president compensated some of his old allies with the appointments.
When Buhari threw his hat into the ring in 2003, former Senate President Chuba Okadigbo was his running mate. Then candidate of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Buhari lost the election to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Okadigbo died in the same year that the election held. He passed on due to breathing problems a day after he was teargassed at a campaign rally in Kano. 12 years after his death, his widow was elected a senator. She represented Anambra North at the senate in the 8th assembly. Buhari has now picked the widow of his former running mate to chair NNPC board.
An ally of Buhari, Tajudeen has been on the board of NNPC since the president came to power. He was appointed into the board when Maikanti Baru was made the Group Managing Director of the corporation.
Umar was a part of Buhari’s strategic think tank before the president was elected. He is on the NNPC board as the North-East representative.
Barrister Constance Harry Marshal is the daughter of Marshal Sokai Harry, the National Coordinator of Buhari’s 2003 Presidential Campaign in the South South. Harry died in the same year with Okadigbo but the circumstances were different. The politician was murdered in Abuja during the 2003 presidential elections. His death had sparked a huge controversy as many high-ranking government officials were accused of being behind it.
The deceased’s child has now been appointed as the representative of the South South on the NNPC Board.
Engr. Henry Ikemefuna Obih, the South East representative on the board, is an ally of Rotimi Amaechi, who is one of the most powerful ministers in Buhari’s cabinet. Twice, Buhari chose Amaechi as the head of his campaign and the minister has been part of the government since 2015. He also has direct access to Buhari.
Obih, a former Executive Director of Operations at Mobil Oil Nigeria plc is a University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) trained Engineer. His ties to Amaechi dates back to when the Minister of Transportation was governor of Rivers State. When Amaechi crossed over to the Federal Cabinet, Obih happened to be among those who remained in his close circle.
Chief Pius Akinyelure, a former National Vice Chairman (South West) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is the South West representative on the NNPC board. The Ondo-trained tax practitioner was elected a senator in 2011. He was out of the senate when Buhari came to power in 2015 but has been a promoter of the government since then. At some point, using his role as an APC big wig in the South West in the interest of the Buhari administration.
Bobboi Ahmed was appointed as a council member for the Midstream and Downstream Infrastructure Fund. Prior to now, he was the head of Petroleum Equalization Fund Management; a post he owes to Buhari, who appointed him in 2016.