NNPC despite its appearance only masquerades as an integrated oil company. It is neither a real commercial entity nor a meaningful operator. Not an oil company but a facilitator of kleptocracy. Its most effective function has been to facilitate the theft and redistribution of Nigeria's huge resource endowment from its people to a small connected political class. It has also provided an assured font of unprecedented wealth for its senior management to plunder. These two groups, not satisfied with running the company into the ground, are now seemingly seeking to cash in on its demise.

There is a strong case to be made that NNPC has brutalised the Nigerian people far more mercilessly than SARS but also with complete impunity. If there was ever an entity more deserving than SARS of nationwide protest, it must be NNPC.

In their most recent financial statements, NNPC's auditors and accountants have expressed their grave doubts as to the Corporation's ability to continue as a going concern. This is alarming but entirely predictable. In fact, many commentators would say that such an outcome is ultimately inevitable. Their financial reports state, that such material uncertainty exists that it casts significant doubts on the ability of NNPC to escape bankruptcy. There is no more damaging auditing denouement for any business.

It would appear from an analysis of the only two ever, but most recently released financial statements, that the culminative losses are in excess of N2 trillion. As such NNPC may be unable to realise its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business.

So if ever there was a cause worth protesting, it must be the theft and mismanagement of Nigerians God given wealth by the unaccountable few that have run the NNPC into the ground. The protest would be to demand a national oil company that enhanced our commonwealth and it would be to identify the culprits and their accomplices and make them accountable for their perfidy.

NNPC senior management however, would have us believe they have resolved the issue of substantial and recurring financial losses by the use of a little known   device called "The Price Modulator Mechanism". If such a silver-bullet exists, it begs the question as to why they would wait until faced with bankruptcy before using it. Whilst the inner working of this tool has not been revealed, It remains unclear as to how this mechanism will combat the inherent corruption, malfeasance and ineptitude which is really responsible for bringing NNPC to the brink of bankruptcy.

It is more likely that this "mechanism" is another exercise in group delusion and smoke and mirrors the Corporation is increasingly employing when confronted with stark reality or unpalatable truths.

The simple truth is that senior management of NNPC have spent decades monetising their positions as officials of the corporation. They have been preoccupied gatekeepers focusing on transaction-based opportunities. The culture of corruption has metastasized throughout the body of the corporation. This is evidenced by the performance of subsidiaries such as the Refineries, NPDC, NETCO or Nigerian Oil Field Services which have been run abysmally.

NNPC has also stated that in an effort to make the Corporation financially viable, the Federal Government will now seek to eliminate the cost drivers they deem responsible for creating the accumulated losses. They have also touted plans to restructure and recapitalise the NNPC. They have suggested that the prompt passage of the PIB will provide NNPC with the autonomy they require to run a profitable business.

Listening to their arguments one would be forgiven for thinking that NNPC had been run by an invisible hand that had nothing to do with its senior management. That senior management were somehow removed from any blame for bankrupting the business and bore no culpability. In any other business such scandalous performance would warrant a thorough root and branch investigation, with the guilty parties  subject to prosecution.

Yet the NNPC Group has grown into a leviathan with a DNA that is not easily altered and a malign thoroughly rotten Espirit De Corps. Complimented by the efforts of prolific tweeter GMD, Mallam Mele Kyari whose constant attempts to conflate and biwilder the Nigerian people are a constant feature. If NNPC were a proper oil company there is no way an under qualified Kyari would ever be appointed as its CEO.

The financial statements released by NNPC are frankly nothing more than an admission of sheer managerial and business incompetence. A tale of profligacy and a stolen or squandered resource patrimony. NNPC claims to have spent over $1 billion on the Refineries in the last couple of years, but none of them are working. NPDC supposedly owes the Government over $5 billion in unpaid remittances, whilst PPMC another subsidiary has had over N500 billion in running costs written off by NNPC. It would also be nice to know where the receivables from the sale of domestic refined petroleum products is reported in the 2018 financial statements.

Much has been made of the NNPC partnership with the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). It has been flaunted as irrefutable proof of NNPC's new found transparency and accountability. But becoming an EITI partner is not an end in itself. It is similar to obtaining a gym membership. It is not the membership of the gym or wearing track suits which makes you fit.

If #ENDSARS is a manifestation of the Nigerian peoples unwillingness to no longer meekly accept being brutalised by a barbaric and sadistic police service, perhaps it is high time to demonstrate against the NNPC. #ENDNNPC CORRUPTION and the theft of Nigeria's commonwealth before there is nothing left to protest. 

Femi Ogunkolati

London, October 2020

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