Monday, May 24, 2010

Oil Sector Shake-up: Northern Elders Slam Jonathan

From Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano and Alike Ejiofor in Lagos

A group, Northern Elders Assembly, has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of contravening his oath of office and violating the constitution over the recent appointments made in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The Assembly said the shake-up were against the constitutionally enshrined principle of federal character and do not reflect the oath he had taken to do justice to all manner of people without fear, favour, affection or ill will.

In a communiqué signed by Alhaji Bashir Mohammed Dalhatu (Walin Dutse) and made available to THISDAY in Kano yesterday after a meeting chaired by Alhaji Bello Kirfi (Walin Bauchi) who was the nation’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, stressed that out of the 20 senior officials of the ministry of petroleum, 10 are from the South- South zone, the area where the president comes from.

Lamenting that with the whole of the North having only four and the South East and South-West having only two each, they cautioned the president to remember that he is the president of the nation and not a regional president. The elders also resolved to send a powerful delegation to the National Assembly to meet with the Senate President, Mr. David Mark, Speaker Dimeji Bankole, and the leadership of Northern caucus in the upper and lower chambers of the legislature in order to present a case against the negative tendencies which are capable of affecting the political stability of the country.

"We frown at the way and manner the immediate past chairman of the PDP, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, was forced to resign his position simply because he insisted on the adherence to the PDP zoning arrangement," the Northern Elders Assembly explained.

Meanwhile, Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs of the NNPC, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma has dismissed insinuations that the recent changes in the Corporation was induced by extraneous factors, stressing that the Nigerian oil industry is a professionally run sector in line with international best practices, which do not give room for ethnic or religious sentiments.

Speaking during an interactive session with journalists in Lagos over the weekend, Ajuonuma also stated that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the newly appointed Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Austen Oniwon, are poised to ensure that the industry witnessed significant growth and sustained development.

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