Chineme Okafor and Amaka Mozie in Abuja
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has accused the National Assembly of persecution, alleging that despite being directed by the lawmakers to clear the 2017 protracted petrol queue within two weeks, the same parliament suddenly turned round to hound it for obeying the said instruction.
Claiming it was the most misunderstood agency of the federal government, the corporation stated that at the heat of the protracted petrol scarcity, it got a directive from the parliament to end the petrol queues across the country, adding that the lawmakers thereafter picked holes in its actions.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the public bid opening for NNPC’s insurance contractors in Abuja, the Group Managing Director of the corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, claimed that the NNPC remains the most transparent agency of government in Nigeria presently.
He noted that the corporation had been consistently misunderstood by Nigerians, adding that despite the misconception, it has so far continued to implement the publication of its monthly financial and operations report.
“I think NNPC is the most misunderstood. We are patient; we will explain, we will do that not only to the general public, but also to the National Assembly. You know what is happening now: if at the time that we have no fuel, the National Assembly was on our neck and they said they gave us two weeks to clear fuel queues, we did what was right, we cleared fuel queues.
“Now that they are in the comfort of driving and feeling comfortable, then they now said that you violated processes in the process of removing these queues,” he said.
Baru explained: “I think it’s quite unfair because the way that people perceive NNPC requires that they can give us the benefit of the doubt and ask us what the issue is and we are always ready to explain.
“We are very transparent and we do our work in the best way, with accountability. In spite of the fact we are a government organisation, we are also very commercially-focused.
“In terms of transparency and accountability, I can guarantee you that there is no other government agency that is more open than us. We are the first government agency and maybe the only one, that is still publishing its accounts on monthly basis and unfailingly; and everyone can look at that. That is the utmost point of transparency.
“The same thing with our processes; we are always open. We have done bid openings here for crude oil contracts – for off-takers; we have done it for shipping; just now we are doing for insurance. We are opening all our bids to the international media and general public. And of course, as you witnessed now, it is live and we have done that in front of all that are bidding.
“So far, we have not witnessed any point where any person has said that the tender is tampered and we opened the bid immediately after the bid opening closure time,” he said.
Baru, explained that since the corporation began its open bids for insurers, it has saved premiums of over $30 million, as well as allowed more participants with competence.
In terms of the value of the corporation’s insurance package, he said: “If you look at our oil assets, we are running into billions of dollars.”
The non-oil, which is dealing with life and property and others, he added, is also in billions “and almost trillions of naira worth of property and also human lives and other general insurance that we do.”
He described it as quite an enormous volume of assets, adding that” through the years, we have improved on the situation.”
“When we came on board, the premiums that we were being charged was over $76 million, and we have succeeded in bringing it to a little just over $40 million. The transparency and efficiency with which we do the tendering has brought all the good result that is there,” he added.