Nigeria’s state oil firm has appointed four new group executive directors and cut its management staff, it said on Tuesday, the latest step in an overhaul of the energy sector in Africa’s biggest crude producer. Last week former Exxon Mobil executive Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu was appointed as the new head of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He dismissed all of the company’s executive directors the next day after a government directive.
President Muhammadu Buhari, elected in March, has made clear his desire to clean up the oil sector, which generates around 70 percent of government revenues in Africa’s biggest economy. He dissolved the NNPC board in June as a first step. “The new appointments are in line with the federal government’s aspiration to transform the corporation into a lean, efficient, business-focused, transparent and accountable national oil company,” said NNPC spokesman Ohi Alegbe in a statement.
The statement added that more than 30 top management staff had been retired, “reducing the number from 122 to 83”.
The appointments, approved by Buhari, include Maikanti Baru as group executive director for exploration and production and Isiaka Abdulrazaq as group executive director for finance and services.
The other appointments are Dennis Nnamdi Ajulu, as group executive director for refining and technology, and Babatunde Victor Adeniran, who is now group executive director for commercial and investment. New managing directors were named at a number of NNPC subsidiaries, including the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) and Duke Oil, the trading subsidiary. Both subsidiaries are being investigated to determine whether the government was short-changed by a scheme to swap crude for refined products.
The president, who was inaugurated on May 29 but has said he will not name his cabinet until September, is widely expected to keep the petroleum portfolio for himself in order to personally oversee a root-and-branch restructuring of the oil sector.
Buhari has said about 250,000 barrels of oil were being stolen each day and that his government was aiming to recover an estimated $150 billion in stolen funds with U.S. assistance. In 2013, the then-central bank governor Lamido Sanusi said tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue had failed to make it into state coffers, which the company denied.
In June, Nigeria’s National Economic Council said NNPC had earned 8.1 trillion naira ($41 billion) from 2012 until the end of May, but only paid 4.3 trillion to the federal government. (Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Gareth Jones)