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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

NNPC refuses disclosure over ‘abandoned’ Jos oil pipeline project

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) saddled with the responsibility of managing and harnessing Nigeria’s oil and gas in what appears an attitude to a disregard for accountability that has helped undermine its country’s extractive sector, has refused to disclose contract deals, and has abandoned the Jos oil pipeline project.

Mele Kyari
NNPC Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari

Under the deal, NNPC awarded a contract to Macready Oil & Gas Service Company Limited. The contract is for maintenance of the Warri-Kaduna Crude Oil Pipeline (604km), Kaduna-Kano Products Pipeline (224.3km), Kaduna-Jos Products Pipeline (166.4km), Kaduna-Suleja Products Pipeline (170.8km), Kaduna Depot, Kano Depot, Jos Depot and Suleja Depot.

Our officials’ visit to the Jos depot located at Jingre, Basaa Local Government Area of Plateau State, shows that there is no oil pipeline project going on. An indication that NNPC has abandoned the project it awarded to Macready Oil & Gas Service Company Limited.

A senior personnel who spoke to our officials at the Jos depot said they are aware of the oil pipeline contract. He, however, pointed out that, to the best of his knowledge, nothing has been done regarding any project execution in Jos.

The senior personnel, who did not want to give detailed information regarding the project, referred our officials to NNPC headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, for further inquiry and detailed information about the project.

Worse still, NNPC has since refused to provide information regarding the contract, making contract disclosure difficult. The corporation’s non-disclosure affects citizens’ ability to hold the state, institutions, and powerful individuals accountable for the way its natural resources are being managed on their behalf.

Divine Era Development and Social Rights Initiative (DEDASRI) and its partner Media Advocacy West Africa (MAWA Foundation) using the Freedom of Information (FOI) requested NNPC to disclose information about the contract it awarded to Macready Oil & Gas Service Company Limited for the maintenance of Jos Oil Pipeline and construction of Oil Depot in Jos.

An information request NNPC refused to release while hiding under the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 as a justification for its refusal. NNPC claims that, under the Act, it is no longer a public institution, but a private company, and has since ceased to be an agency of government. Hence, it not under any obligation to respond to FOI requests and be accountable to the public. The corporation further pointed out that it cannot answer questions about its financial transaction dealings regarding contract awards because it is not a financial institution.

The non-compliance with disclosure by the NNPC on the way it manages the Nigerian oil and gas natural resources on behalf of the citizens has continued to be a major challenge in achieving extractive sector transparency in Nigeria. This is even as the Nigerian state has laws such as the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI Act), FOI Act, Petroleum Industry Act, Public Procurement Act, Fiscal Responsibility Act, etc that place the state under the obligation to make public access to extractive deal available to citizens.

NNPC’s non-compliance with disclosure in the extractive deal is a long-standing entrenched habit that can only be addressed through the participation of strategic stakeholders in the implementation of coordinated interventions that will encourage the Nigerian state to promote transparency in the extractive sector.

Advocates of open transparency in the extractive sector who spoke to our officials said they are worried that attaining transparency in the extractive industry is becoming difficult. For instance, Dr. Michael Uzoigwe, former EITI Country Manager for Anglophone Africa, pointed out that despite the availability of laws ensuring disclosure and transparency, the Nigerian state has continued to resist transparency in the extractive industry.

Efforts by our officials to speak to Macready Oil and Gas Service Company Limited were unsuccessful. Calls made to the company’s telephone did not go through and an email sent to its official email address got no response.

By Audu Liberty Oseni, MAWA Foundation Coordinator and Director of Communication, Centre for Development Communication

This report was supported by a grant from Publish What You Pay

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