Since President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume as the Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), several media hirelings and other paid social media warriors have been peddling all sorts of lies and inaccuracies about Senator Araraume and his new appointment.
The aim of these sponsored writers and their paymasters, is to discredit Senator Araraume and create doubts in investors in the oil industry about his suitability for the job. They simply want to portray him as unqualified to drive Nigeria’s oil sector.
These hatchets men have gone to town with the falsehood that Araraume lacks the experience and intellectual capacity to head the NNPC Board and run the policies to transform the new NNPC into a commercial concern capable of making profit. But, falsehood has short legs and can never travel far.
These misguided elements have only succeeded in displaying their envy and lack of information about Senator Araraume’s experience in business, academics and other accomplishments as an employer of labour and a key actor in the Nigerian economy.
It is regrettable that some politicians in Nigeria, who pay these hatchet writers, see everything as politics and read wicked, selfish, and satanic meanings into every good that comes to their opponents and perceived real or imaginary enemies.
Senator Araraume’s capacity to chair the NNPC Board cannot be in doubt. While in the Senate, he was the Chairman of the Senate Sub-Committee on the Downstream Sector of the oil industry. The Downstream Sector is defined as: “the final stage of the process and refers to the refining, processing, and purifying of crude oil and natural gas. The sector also encompasses any efforts that are made to market and distribute crude oil and natural gas-related products.”
His colleagues in the Senate then and the technocrats in the oil sector he worked with can attest to his drive for excellence and expertise in managing some of the serious issues and decisions taken to make the oil sector profitable for all Nigerians. The paid writers chose to ignore this very crucial fact in their write-ups. Their aim was to create credibility crisis.
It is also significant here to state that in addition to being the Chairman of the Senate Sub-Committee on the Downstream Sector, Senator Araraume was also Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Chairman, Senate Committee on Power and Steel and member, Senate Committees on Works, Finance, Appropriation and Petroleum Resources. He was equally the Chairman Southern Senators Forum.
Section 64(a) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 states that the major objective of the NNPC Limited shall include: “carrying out petroleum operations on a commercial basis, comparable to private companies in Nigeria, carrying out similar activities including exemption to Public Procurement Act, Fiscal Responsibility Act and Treasury Single Account.”
In tandem with this provision, it is only a man such as Araraume who has successfully run blue-chip companies in the private sector and administered policies of the public sector that can run the NNPC effectively on a commercial basis as prescribed by the Petroleum Industry Act.
As a young man in his 30s, Senator Araraume was the youngest Director on the Board of Inland Bank which has fused into present-day First City Monument Bank (FCMB). It is on record that he worked tirelessly then to ensure that the Bank was run on a profitable basis for its shareholders.
In 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Senator Araraume a Federal Commissioner in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). He functioned in this capacity between 2016 and 2018. He was also on the Board of the Universal Service Provision Fund. A man who has functioned in these capacities cannot be described as inexperienced.
If the writers had good intentions, they would have conducted a research into Senator Araraume’s background before accepting the contract to malign him in the public space. One of the problems we face in Nigeria today is the menace of contract writers who have taken over the un-regulated social media.
These gutter-writers have also claimed that Senator Araraume lacks the academic background to function as NNPC Board Chairman. This is a regrettable fallacy. A man with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) and Master of Science (M.Sc) Degrees in Business Administration and International Relations respectively and currently writing his Doctoral Dissertation in International Relations and Diplomacy in one of Nigerians first-grade universities cannot be said to be academically deficient. As a PhD student, he has been deep in research and studies. In the private sector, Senator Araraume sits as Chairman of several blue-chip companies, some of which were established and run by him with over 500 direct employees and more than 1,000 indirect workers. None of these companies has failed.
A man who has succeeded in the private sector as a great investor cannot be described as incapable of running a business on a profitable basis. His chain of Departmental Stores spread across some states, including the Federal Capital Territory, remain some of the largest stores in the country.
On his character, he cannot be faulted. He remains a good Christian of the Catholic fold. This explains why he is a Knight of Saint John International – a rare honour often conferred on exceptionally-committed Catholics with no moral issues. He is also a man with a stable family life.
Most of the political detractors who pay these writers to malign Araraume are professional politicians who have no investments anywhere in the country. Their stock-in-trade is to pull opponents down using falsehood as a tool.
As Araraume assumes duty in NNPC Limited, time and his subsequent accomplishments in the oil sector will put these writers and their paymasters to shame.
*Abdullahi writes from Abuja