FG Charged to Privatise NNPC, Reduce Powers of Petroleum Minister

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Kasim Sumaina and Tayo Olaleye in Abuja
The Former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday charged the federal government to amend some structures of public corporations such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) to create room for improvement and accountability.
The former deputy governor of the country’s apex bank, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, made the charge while delivering his keynote address at the 2017 Annual Director’s Conference of the Institute of Directors (IoD), in Abuja.

Moghalu, who is also the President, Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation, in his address at the event with the theme: ‘Implementing Best Corporate Practice in Nigeria’s Public and Private Sector’, urged the government to bring in companies and individuals to invest in corporations which he noted are essential for the creation of shareholders or stakeholders value on a sustainable basis.

According to him, “The National Assembly should amend the structure of public corporations such as the NNPC. The necessary two actions are to partially privatise NNPC and bring in companies and individuals to invest in them and improve accountability. Secondly, the powers of the Petroleum Minister need to be reduced.”

Moghalu hinted that corporate governance in the Nigerian public must now be improved as a matter of urgency. “While this aspect of corporate governance is less visible than that of the private sector, it is actually more important because the public institutions that need their governance improved, such as the NNPC, CBN (which has been operating without a board of directors for the past two years- a clear contravention of the CBN Act) and a host of others, include critical ones at the nerve- centre of the Nigerian economy,” Moghalu said.

He explained that public sector corporate governance reform requires the political will in the political leadership to commit to the necessary measures s part of their government governance.

According to him, “The real question is, does this will exist among our political leaders? Are they interested in the objective outcomes we need as a country, or do other subjective considerations matter more?

“Whenever we speak of corporate governance, most minds think about the private sector, where some progress has been made in corporate governance in Nigeria, although we still have a long road to travel to get to best practices. But, I will on this occasion discuss corporate governance in Nigeria’s public sector, where the concept for all practical purposes is minimal or almost non-existed.”

The former CBN deputy governor noted that failure of corporate governance to take off in Nigeria’s public sector is part of the country’s long-standing and continuous crisis of governance, adding that, though “there are important and nuanced differences between private and public sector corporate governance, public sector corporate governance tends to be weaker than in the private sector in several countries, Nigeria’s case is peculiar in its severity.”

Moghalu said Nigerian citizens who are shareholders and stakeholders of a commercial company will demand accountability and performance if those attributes are perceived to be absent, “but they will not be as exercised by the failure of public corporations because they believe, along with partisan politicians; that these institutions exist to serve vested interests rather than the public interest.

“Examples include the evident and massive failures of corporate governance in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the NNPC.

“Nigerian citizens and civil society should demand more corporate governance and activity performance because these corporations or ‘parastatals’ form a critical component of ‘government governance’.”

Speaking further, he said: “Businesses will suffer commercial losses or may even collapse where corporate governance is weak, and public sector corporations will fail to achieve the public interest and will be incompetent and ineffective in similar circumstances.”

He, however, said the leadership of an organisation is what defines the success and failure of the organisation. “If anything goes wrong with NNPC and CBN, Nigerians will feel the impact.”