ACTING President Goodluck Jonathan has removed the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Mohammed Barkindo, for non-performance in the upstream and downstream sub-sector of the Nigerian oil and gas industry. Former Group Executive Director (GMD), Commercial and Investment, Alhaji Shehu Ladan, retired on April 7, 2009 with other six GEDs, has been announced as his replacement by the presidency.
Shehu Ladan takes over from Barkindo, who was in the saddle as GMD for a year and three months, having been appointed on January 12, 2009.
Born on September 21, 1952, Ladan comes into office as the 13th GMD of the corporation.
A seasoned legal practitioner, Ladan parades a rich pedigree in the oil and gas industry. He was, until July 2009, the Group Executive Director, Commercial and Investment of NNPC. He also worked briefly as the GED Corporate Services of the Corporation.
Before then, he was Group General Manager, Human Resources, NNPC; Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Nigerian Gas Company and Deputy Managing Director of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG).
He also worked as the Manager, Administration and Personnel, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC. Ladan was also Executive Director, Services, Nigeria Engineering and Technical Company Limited (NETCO).
Before then, he served as Staff Solicitor of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN). He was also the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Kaduna State Rural Electrification Board (REB) and Assistant Director, Federal Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Jos.
Ladan was appointed to the Kaduna State executive council in 1987 as Commissioner for Education and he was made Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in 1989. During his tenure as education commissioner, he founded and established the Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria (formerly Kaduna State Polytechnic). He also sponsors research and publications and indigent students from all parts of Kaduna State to the institution.
Before the sack of Barkindo, National Economic Council (NEC) had summoned him to appear before a committee headed by Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State for non-remittance of crude oil revenue to the Federation Account.
The committee was set up by Acting President Jonathan, following a report presented to the council meeting of March 9 by the chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) on remittances to the Federation Account and related matters .
The RMAFC, in the report, had raised questions on why the subsidy of petroleum by the Federal Government was yet to be felt by Nigerians and reasons for the establishment of criteria for accessing excess crude revenues, excluding the exclusive use of such revenues for infrastructure development, as well as the withholding of revenue by collecting agencies, such as the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), among others.
The RMAFC also raised questions on the modalities for determining the annual Joint Venture Cash Call (JVCC) budget, the allocation of crude oil for domestic refining and the issue of deductions from the Federation Account as fuel subsidy, among others.
According to a presidency source, the removal of Barkindo was approved after consultation with Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) over his inability to bring an end to a series of problems in the downstream sub-sector after over one year in office as the GMD and indictment by NEC on revenue remittance to the Federation Account.
He was alleged to be incompetent in the management of fuel supply and distribution which resulted in acute shortage between October 2009 and March 2010.
Militants in the Niger Delta, led by the Movement for the Emancipation (MEND) had threatened to resume attack on oil installations recently, in protest against lopsided appointment in NNPC since Barkindo’s resumption of duty as GMD.
Another group, known as February 9 Movement, had placed advertorial in national newspapers over the northernisation of NNPC, especially the appointment of several Nigerians from the North as Deputy Managers and General Managers without the input of the NNPC board, including Mr Odein Ajumogobia, former Minister of State for Petroleum.
Industry source blamed the long period of fuel scarcity on refusal of the former GMD to comply with instructions from Ajumogobia, who was saddled with the responsibility of supervising downstream activities by President Umaru Yar’Adua before his trip to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.
Barkindo, noted for his opposition to deregulation until the dissolution of Yar’Adua’s cabinet and sack of Lukman, confirmed that the refineries of NNPC performed below 13 per cent of the installed capacity which resulted in expenditure of over N800 billion on fuel subsidy by the corporation.
Meanwhile, facts, on Tuesday, emerged as to the reason the former GMD was removed from office by Acting President Jonathan.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the sack of Barkindo was in connection with his alleged role in the political logjam that enveloped the nation, prior to February resolution of the National Assembly which empowered Jonathan in acting capacity.
Checks by the Nigerian Tribune revealed that the NNPC boss was relieved of his appointment for allegedly turning the corporation into a cash machine to oil the agenda of the cabal loyal to the ailing President Yar’Adua.
Alhaji Barkindo was alleged to have provided funds for Yar’Adua’s erstwhile kitchen cabinet to perpetuate the indisposed president in power and short-circuit moves to confirm Jonathan in acting capacity.
A source told the Nigerian Tribune that the sacked NNPC boss, rather than remit all revenue accruing to the corporation’s coffers to the Federation Account, in line with extant laws, allegedly deployed millions of naira to the procurement of the air ambulance, which was used in bringing Yar’Adua into the country surreptitiously late February.
According to the source, the funding of Yar’Adua’s health bills by the cabal, through the NNPC, was done to prevent Jonathan and other perceived anti-Yar’Adua people from knowing the health status and condition of the president.
It was further gathered that the presidency had also been funding the health bills of Yar’Adua since he took ill.
Barkindo, according to sources, was, however, jolted when Jonathan sacked his inherited cabinet and weeded out those constituting a hinderance to his administration.
Perhaps realising that the end of the road might have come for their activities, Barkindo resolved to address himself to the primary task of leading a corporation that should assuage the suffering of Nigerians in sourcing petroleum products.
It was also gathered that, perhaps as a ploy to distance himself from the ousted cabal and show himself as a competent director, Barkindo came up with a policy to commercialise NNPC operations and make it efficient and effective.
Another source hinted that the policy was arrived at when it became apparent that there was the need to recoup the billions of naira spent on the cabal’s activities and show to the nation that the corporation was accountable.
Barkindo had recently invited stakeholders in NNPC and the downstream sector as well as the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) to a meeting in Abuja, to discuss the policy and proffer solutions to the challenges facing the body.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the move by Alhaji Barkindo was a ploy to stall his possible removal by Jonathan.
It will be recalled that the sacked GMD told the nation that the NNPC was indebted to the tune of hundreds of billions of naira.
The National Assembly had, on several occasions, accused the corporation of shortchanging the nation by under-remitting its revenue into the Federation Accounts.