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Jonathan Rejigs Presidency, Appoints New Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Group Managing Director (GMD)

Published on Wednesday 19th May 2010 Jonathan Rejigs Presidency, Appoints New Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Group Managing Director (GMD)

Seven weeks after appointing Alhaji Shehu Ladan as the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday relieved him of his duties.

The corporation's Group Executive Director, Refineries and Petrochemicals Mr. Austin Oniwon, was appointed as his replacement.

Also, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe was named Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Hassan Tukur, Principal Secretary, and Ima Niboro, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.

No reason was given for the sudden change in the terse statement issued by Niboro.

But THISDAY learnt that Jonathan has not been impressed with the "slow pace" of the man who was originally mandated to get the corporation ready for the impending restructuring of the oil industry through the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) expected to be passed into law by the National Assembly soon.

"He was expected to clean up the place and put the finances in order but up till now, he has not taken any step in that direction," a presidency source said last night.

"It was very clear that he does not fit into the picture despite his intimidating CV. The President expected much from him as there is no time to waste. State-owned oil companies in other parts of the world are making giant strides across the world. NNPC cannot afford to be left behind,"he added.

It was also speculated yesterday that Ladan had resigned to take up the position of Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, which would be declared vacant if the incumbent Governor, Alhaji Namadi Sambo, is approved by the National Assembly as the vice-president.

However, another source said he resigned "on principle" owing to the alleged highhandedness of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Yet another source said his exit could be as a result of personality clashes as the former GMD was alleged to have refused to take orders from Alison-Madueke.

But reports of resignation were described as incorrect as Ladan was said to be attending the board meeting of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) in London yesterday when the news was broken to him.

When he was appointed last month, the presidency said Ladan was "expected to execute the administration's vision of transforming the NNPC into a global brand and player".

Meanwhile, the statement by Niboro also said the President had ordered an audit of the accounts of the corporation. It was not clear how many years or the tenures of previous helmsmen the probe would cover.

"The finance minister is to engage the services of a world-class auditing firm to carry out the audit," the statement said.

Following the sack of former GMD, Mr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, on April 4, 2010, Ladan, who had been retired from the corporation a year earlier by the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, was appointed as the new helmsman.

Barkindo was in the saddle as GMD for a year and three months, having been appointed on January 12, 2009.

The new helmsman, Oniwon, who is now the 14th chief executive of the NNPC, was born on April 1, 1951, in Okene, Kogi State. He started his working career with the NNPC in 1977 and rose to become Head, Planning of the Warri Refining and Petrochemicals Company in 1987.

From 1988 to 1991 he was the Technical Assistant to the GED, Downstream and later Head, Engineering and Technical Services Department (ETSD) of Kaduna Refining and Petrochemicals Company from 1991-1992. That same year, Oniwon was made Head, New Business Development, Corporate Planning and Development Division, a post he held until his appointment as Head, ETSD at the Port Harcourt Refinery from 1993-1999.

From 1999-2000 Oniwon held forte as General Manager, Information System, Engineering and Technology Directorate before moving on to function as Senior Technical Assistant to the GMD and GM, Information Systems Department at the GMD's office.

Months later he was made the Managing Director of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC before moving on to the Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited as MD between 2003- 2009.

A fellow of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers (FNSChE), Oniwon holds a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He also holds a Diploma in Business Management from the prestigious Harvard University, USA and Diploma, Petroleum Management from Oxford University, UK.

He is married and has children.

The President has also formally removed the Principal Secretary to late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, Mr. David Edevbie.

Tukur takes over as Jonathan's new Principal Secretary.

Yar'Adua had scrapped the office of Chief of Staff seen as the clearing house for the President's activities and itinerary at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.

The appointment of Oghiadomhe, the former deputy governor of Edo State, put paid to speculations that former top military officers like former Chief of General Staff, General Patrick Aziza or former Lagos State military administrator and Nigeria 's present Ambassador to South Africa, Brig. Gen. Muhammed Buba Marwa, might get the job.

Niboro said the President thanked Edevbie for his services to the country.

Edevbie is an associate of former Delta State Governor James Ibori and served as Commissioner for Finance in the Ibori administration.

The statement also officially confirmed Niboro's appointment as the new Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President.

Former Presidential Spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi had handed over to Niboro last week and will soon be proceeding to Harvard University for one year fellowship programme.

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