For the first time in the 43-year history of the oil conglomerate, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Nigerian public has been given the opportunity to know how the finances of the organisation is operated and handled. Before this refreshing development, except for a select few in government circles, no one else knew what NNPC and its branches were doing. A lot was left to guesswork and unhealthy speculation.
In those days, the corporation acted as if it did not owe anyone any obligation in terms of letting the public know how the business was run on behalf of the rest of the country. But all that is beginning to change with the new man at the helm of affairs, the Group Managing Director, Mallam Melee Kyari
Keeping to the promise he made on assumption of office that his tenure in office will emphasise due process, transparency and accountability, Kyari authorised to be published the audited account of NNPC. What obtained in the past was that the corporation merely sent copies of its annual statements of account to the Presidency and the National Assembly and the documents were treated as if they were the Holy Grail reserved only for the initiated. This, in spite of demands by stakeholders and other major actors in the oil and gas sector.
These demands had centred on ways by which NNPC can become more transparent, assume and maintain the status of a commercially viable entity that can deliver quality service and returns on investment to the Nigerian nation and her people bearing in mind that petroleum resources of the country which the company oversees are the mainstay of the economy.
Non- transparent disclosure of the activities of the organisation had, in the recent past, encouraged corruption of unimaginable proportions. In those days, not many knew the accurate quantity of oil sold let alone the revenue derived there from. Nigerians accepted, without question, whatever they were told.
It is from this perspective that one can begin to understand how elated most Nigerians are to know how the NNPC runs its business based on the release of this audited report. The content of the report indicated that some of the subsidiaries actually operated at a loss. That happens often in business operations and it provides an opportunity for the management to re-strategize for profitability. With that knowledge that losses were incurred, interested parties are given the platform to ask questions and suggest ideas on how better the corporation can be run.
With all the shortcomings revealed in the operations of the outfit, in our considered opinion, the release of this report by the NNPC is a laudable step towards showing Nigerians the true picture of what is going on in the organisation. It must be noted that this bold step is a demonstration of the commitment to transparency by the current leadership of NNPC.
Without doubt, Nigerians welcome this fulfilment of an obligation by Kyari and his team. Expert opinion analyses this development from the antecedents of the corporation, especially its prominent role in the oil sector. These experts view the publication of this audited account as a positive insight into the make of the present management of the corporation signalling more openness for the oil and gas sector.
The National Assembly which had been in the forefront of demanding for a more open and transparent NNPC sees this unexpected but welcome move to put in the public space its audited Financial Statement as an indication of its readiness to be true to Nigerians and the world in terms of operating in accordance with international best practices. In terms of transparency, the present leadership of NNPC is proving to be more enhanced in terms of probity, accountability to the people as well as effectiveness.
As a newspaper, we commend the management of NNPC for finding the courage to be different. This management under Kyari has chosen the path of rectitude which is a clear indication that they have nothing to hide.
We also note that five years after, the Muhammadu Buhari administration is still investigating the impropriety that bestrode the NNPC like a colossus in the days of the locust. That process is made more arduous because the management of that time did not pretend to be accountable to anyone. We, however, warn that it is too early in the day to rejoice that a Daniel has come to judgement. What is required of NNPC, and especially Kyari, is the courage of his conviction that will enable him to keep to this path of accountability. He has started well. We pray that he ends well.