A new book has told of how ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo ran the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as a “sole administrator” for the eight years he led the country.
According to the book titled ‘Too Good to Die: Third Term and the Myth of the Indispensable Man in Africa’, while serving as minister of petroleum resources, the former president never discussed activities of the corporation with government officials until his last days in office.
Obasanjo, who was president from 1999 to 2007, made himself the minister overseeing the nation’s petroleum sector until January 2007, when he relinquished that position.
The only official Obasanjo had in a similar capacity was Edmund Daukoru, his presidential adviser on petroleum and energy, whom he later made minister of state for petroleum resources in 2005.
In the book, the authors – Chidi Odinkalu, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and Ayisha Osori, author of ‘Love Does Not Win Elections’ – said Obasanjo was “ultimately responsible for all the decisions made affecting the petroleum sector”.
They told of how he secured approval for all his dealings as petroleum minister in one fell swoop, during one of the last federal executive council meetings.
The authors wrote: “In one of the last working sessions of cabinet in May, 2007, Obasanjo required cabinet to give retrospective approval to all the measures he had taken over the eight years in which he acted as sole administrator of Nigeria’s oil industry.
“Cabinet duly obliged him after recording Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s objection.
“For this purpose, each minister received their share of the documents they were required to approve in a Ghana-must-go bag. None had the capacity to process or read them. The approval was pro-forma.”
While he served as minister of petroleum resources, NNPC operations were reportedly shrouded in secrecy with little or no accountability in place.
Obasanjo was said to have disregarded due process on several occasions, allegedly bypassing the national assembly on issues of funding and failing to render proper accounts of oil revenue to relevant agencies like the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
Interestingly, while serving as military head of state in 1977, Obasanjo had set up a tribunal to investigate the operations of the Nigerian National Oil Company (NNOC, which metamorphosed into NNPC).