NNPC makes U-turn on FOI, promises transparency

Idris Akinbajo with Agency reports

The Nigerian National Petroleum Commission, which initially claimed that it was not bound by the Freedom of Information law, has made a U-turn, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

The NNPC had in a letter dated July 17 and signed by its Legal Adviser refused an FOI application by a national daily saying it is “not bound by the provision of the act”.

Senior lawyers, human right activists, and civil society groups, as reported by PREMIUM TIMES, condemned the NNPC for its position on the FOI; with Itse Sagay, a Professor of Law, describing the commission’s position as “ignorant.”

The official position by the NNPC was however contradicted by the commission’s head and Group Managing Director, Andrew Yakubu.

Mr. Yakubu, while speaking at the induction ceremony for the 595 new members of staff said his commission is open to transparency.

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“I want to use this opportunity to address some concerns raised in some quarters about our attitude toward transparency and accountability,” Mr. Yakubu stated.

“We uphold these ideals in all our operations.”

The NNPC boss said that “long before the Freedom of Information Act came into force, the NNPC had always maintained an open door policy”.

Part of the ways the commission acts transparently, according to Mr. Yakubu, is by “volunteering information to its public through press releases, advertorials and presentations at different forums including at the National assembly”.

However, the NNPC boss failed to denounce or reject the official letter written by his commission; nor did he state the commission’s willingness to honour the FOI request of the Daily Trust Newspapers.

The FOI request, by the media, bordered on the recent recruitment carried out by the NNPC, amidst alleged violations of the Federal Character principle.

We obeyed Federal Character

Mr. Yakubu stated that his commission complied with the principle of the Federal Character Commission in the recruitment of new staff.

“I wish to restate that the 2010 recruitment exercise which ultimately led to today’s induction ceremony stands as one of the most painstaking and transparent recruitment exercise ever conducted in the history of the corporation,” he said.

The NNPC boss said that “in line with the Federal Character Commission’s requirements, Management (of NNPC) engaged the Commission for vetting of the recruitment exercise”.

“After a series of interface, the commission issued a Certificate of Compliance to NNPC thus bringing the exercise to a successful close,’’ he said.

Mr. Yakubu also said his commission is rapidly expanding it services in the upstream and downstream sectors.

“As at the last count, the NNPC had increased its number of retail outlets and affiliate filling stations from 30 to over 500, increasing its share to over 16.13 per cent,’’ he said.

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