InDICAtions have emerged that Dr. Rilwan Lukman, Minister of Petroleum Resources, is responsible for the mass replacement of qualified senior officials from the south of Nigeria in the   Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with new officials being recruited from the  states in the north.

Recently, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources was redeployed for protesting  the appointment of Dr. Mohammed Barkindo, Group Managing Director of NNPC as the governor of  the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
This position,  in the past, was consistently occupied by  Permanent Secretary of the Petroleum Ministry  and Head of Petroleum Inspectorate Division, now Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), since Nigeria joined OPEC.

A senior official of the Petroleum Ministry disclosed in Abuja during the week that Lukman has consistently frustrated other board members of NNPC from bringing an end  to the recruitment of mainly top officials from the north  taking over from qualified southern officials.

This backdoor recruitment,  which was started few months ago by  Barkindo, it was gathered, involves placing  new officials from the north as general managers, managers and deputy managers above those already in service without promotion for several years.

The implementation of the northernisation project, the official said, was enhanced by major changes made by President Umaru Yar’Adua  in NNPC whereby 67 top senior management staff were redeployed in July 2009.

In the changes approved by Yar’Adua during the period, 13 senior officials of the corporation were retired.

Our source said further: “To strengthen the recruitment of northern candidates into key positions in the corporation, key officials from the north were approved for the replacement of officials affected by the changes at the group human resources of NNPC.”

The new appointees  included Dr. Attahiru Yusuf, Group Executive Director (GED) Corporate Services; Mr. Auwalu Abubakar, (GGM) of  Group Human Resources; Hajia  M. Sanni, General Manager of Human Resources Division and Malam I.M Bawa, General Manager, Admin Services.

“From the top positions being occupied by officials from the north, it is clear that it will not take a year before NNPC will eventually be dominated mainly by northerners  because  the recruitment organ of NNPC is manned only by northerners,” he noted.

The source added that several northerners have been employed by the NNPC through the backdoor without following due process of employment and input of other board members. He added that these young northerners were placed in management positions, whereas there are several  qualified staff of the corporation who are  in positions of chief officers for several years without promotion.

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