A groundswell of criticisms and thumbs-down has continued to trail the judicial pronouncement which sacked Sen. Margery Chuba Okadigbo and reinstated Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume as non-Executive Chairman of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).
A cross-section of Nigerians who spoke with newsmen on the development, expressed views with many condemning the Federal High Court, Abuja’s judgment.
A retired manager in one of the oil companies, who did not want to be identified gave a downbeat review of the order and urged the Federal Government to appeal the judgment.
He recalled that Ararume was nominated but not inaugurated as a non-Executive Chairman.
“If the President in his wisdom went back and nullified the nomination of Ararume and nominated somebody else that is not actionable.
“The president may have good reasons for withdrawing his nomination. I think Ararume’s matter or journey ended at nomination stage, it’s not a nomination that was screened and confirmed by the Nigerian Senate.
“It does not warrant going to court because the president has powers to nominate, appoint after confirmation by Senate and even remove,’’ he said.
Also towing the same line, an industry watcher, Dr. Ayomide Omotosho, said it is an incontrovertible fact the president has the executive powers to nominate, appoint and possibly remove or cancel such nomination without recourse to the appointee under the 1999 Constitution for ease of doing business and smooth running of such a public liability company like NNPC Ltd.
“That is part of the powers of the Executive President under the Constitution, and this does not warrant anyone whose nomination is cancelled to go to court over this.
“There is a wider implication of this for the country and the newly incorporated company – NNPC Ltd in the eyes of the world particularly in the international oil industry in the light of the signing of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law by President Buhari in 2022.
“How will it be perceived by international investors and partners now that NNPCL has gone fully commercial and needs a lot of foreign and local investments,’’ he said. According to Omotosho, who trained in U.S., if the U.S. President nominates someone, it will go through the Senate and can only be appointed if confirmed after screening.
“So on what grounds did Ararume go to court to challenge the President’s action and asking that he should be reinstated and all his entitlements restored. This is not too good for the nation’s nascent or fledging and liberalized oil industry.
“We should not forget that the PIA of 2021 is one of the bold steps and audacious move to overhaul the country’s petroleum sector which now seeks to provide regulatory platform, corporate governance, legal and appropriate fiscal framework for the industry.
“The gains should be consolidated by all means to gain the confidence of the international community and not to rubbish such gains through frivolous and selfish interests,’’ he also said.
For a one-time union leader in the nation’s oil and gas sector, the judgment can be anything but distasteful and in bad faith.
“Is it everybody that the President nominates that pass through the Senate that were at the end of the day approved? If somebody was rejected by the Senate, will he or she now go to court to question his or her rejection?
“What Ararume has done by going to court and obtain judgment in his favour is giving Nigeria a bad image and also sending a wrong signal to the international community because NNPC is now a commercially-driven company.
“Now for him to have gone court will now show or give an impression of instability in the oil sector and sending wrong messages to our international partners and those who want to work with us,’’ he said.
A media analyst, Mr Abu Abdullahi, also criticized in strong terms Ararume’s action and the court judgment, saying it is in bad taste and self-serving and not in the overall national interest.
He declared:“It is in bad taste and a wrong move at that. It should be condemned in totality. Equally, the judgment should be denounced by lovers of this country and our `fragile’ oil industry.
“It could deter some partners from putting their money in the oil sector; the implications of what Ararume has done and the judgment are inimical to the economy of the country.’’
“I believe the government should go on appeal and challenge the judgment. Ararume did not show respect and gratitude to the President for considering him in the first place to be nominated for the job,’’ Abdullahi stated.