By Sonny Atumah
Chinese writer and poet, Han Yu (768-824) writing on the truth about one’s underlying character identified that: “The three grades of character are superior, medium and inferior: the superior is just good, the medium is capable of development either in an upward or a downward direction, and the inferior is just evil.”
Universities award degrees pronouncing graduands worthy in character and learning. Academically grading the human being has been perfected. The character component is based on the learning theory that behaviour can be explained in terms of how people learn by classical conditioning and operant conditioning.
Basic human values, morals and issues of integrity have put us in situations with more questions, which resolutions can only be found in the realm of self-examination and ethics apparently lacking in most privileged people in positions of authority. For venal reasons corrupt tendencies make many inefficient on the job. Corruption kills productivity in any system and whoever tackles it is on the way to success. We are not just seeking for vigorous anti-corruption crusaders in our daily public lives, but a fighting chance against the monster.
Last Monday, the Group Managing Director, GMD of the NNPC Dr. Maikanti Baru set up an committee on anti-corruption in the state-own Oil Company. Baru drew a correlation between the quest for revenue and the anti-corruption campaign emphasizing that with the prevailing global economic reality, the only survival strategy was to change our ways of doing business by embracing transparency, accountability, honesty with integrity. It has not been difficult situating our problems but the procedure of tackling identified problems makes the difference. Baru has been there as an anti-corruption crusader and what he is bringing on the table would make the difference to kill the monster within the NNPC.
A year ago Baru assumed office and one had this on this column excerpted thus: “Baru, a first class engineer and an insider knows that the national oil company, NOC like some state owned enterprises, SOE has been mired with corruption, inefficiency, underinvestment, underutilization of staff and research laggards. Apart from the activities of militiamen in the Niger Delta, we produce less crude and more expensively than we should through unrealistic joint venture agreements and production sharing contracts. We could squeeze more revenue from each barrel if we are more efficient.”
On July 4, 2017, Baru celebrated one year in office as the GMD of NNPC in a podcast devoid of the usual razzmatazz of occupants of the exalted office. Baru’s one year scorecard as the NNPC GMD was quite encouraging. Baru has started rehabilitating associated infrastructure including depots and multi products pipelines. He reduced production cost of crude from US$27 to US$22. NNPC has done well but more is expected to create wealth for Nigeria. And that is possible if our four refineries are rehabilitated and possibly upgraded to increase our refining capacity.
Is Baru toothless to bite the monster in the NNPC? Baru had the rare opportunity of heading the anti-corruption committee he reconstituted last week. Some NNPC staff members including a senior management staff confided in one that as the NNPC helmsman he has plugged in the loopholes that were impossible when he headed the anti-graft committee. Baru’s opportunity that should not be frittered away is the relative absence of political interference or encumbrance to reposition the NNPC.
Again, externally induced corruption is what Baru team should watch. In February 2017, President Donald Trump of the United States signed a legislation to repeal a Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC regulation that oil, gas and mining companies should disclose their payments to foreign governments.
The Cardin-Lugar Amendment became law in 2010 as Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act. The Securities and Exchange Commission rule means that all foreign and domestic companies listed on US stock exchanges and involved in oil, gas and mineral resource extraction must publish payments they make to foreign countries in which they operate.
Opponents of the Dodd Frank Act view the resource extraction rule as overly burdensome and puts US energy companies at a competitive disadvantage even when it affects all global extractive companies. The Trump’s repeal means that the notoriously murky activities of American oil and mining companies globally should not be brought into the open.
Investigations by Global Witness have shown how ExxonMobil or its corporate predecessor Mobil have engaged in questionable transactions with governments of oil rich countries including Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Chad and Kazakhstan. Such deals have entrenched poverty, violated human rights and fuelled instability in Nigeria.
The monster called corruption almost had a grand and imposing dwelling in the beautiful NNPC Towers. In 2013 one attempted organizing an oil and gas conference and exhibition in collaboration with the second biggest petroleum conference organisers in the world. Endorsements from the NNPC were needed, but were killed because there was nothing to bring on the table. It was that bad. It is ones hope that Baru’s continuous campaign and actions would wipe corruption from NNPC memory.