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Anger as NNPCL hires expatriate to head subsidiary

Experts and operators in the field have expressed a variety of concerns regarding the appointment of Jean-Marc Cordier as the head of the oil trading arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.

Garba-Deen Muhammad, the company’s Chief Corporate Communications Officer, made the announcement in an Abuja statement that Cordier would lead NNPC Trading Ltd, a subsidiary of NNPCL.

On Monday, however, the announcement sparked resentment among operators and analysts, despite the fact that other experts found nothing wrong with the development.

“It is of concern to most Nigerians that at this time of our lives we are still having a foreigner in such a strategic business enterprise in this country,” Bode Fadipe, an energy expert and Chief Executive Officer of Sage Consulting, stated.

Many people will ask, “Do we not have Nigerians who are capable of managing that office?” Are the expatriates currently shareholders in the company, or is it a joint venture that grants such a position to a foreigner?

“Has NNPC Ltd. sold the public its shares? To the best of my knowledge, the shares in NNPCL remain owned by the Nigerian government. Since it is still owned by the government, when did foreigners begin being appointed to such positions?

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Fadipe described the development as abnormal and stated that this was the first time he had seen such an appointment in the national oil company.

“I believe it to be an anomaly. The energy analyst stated, “I don’t know what would have informed that kind of position, but I think it is a situation that calls for further investigation.”

However, Prof. Yemi Oke, a legal consultant and energy law advisor, argued that NNPCL should be a going concern under the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 because the law required appointments.

He stated, “There are other Nigerian companies that have expatriates as employees; all they need to do is comply with the expatriate quota and show that there is no local manpower skilled enough to man that particular office, due to the technical nature of the position.” Additionally, “there are other Nigerian companies that have expatriates as employees.”

However, our correspondent was informed by an impeccable source at the national oil company that the majority of NNPCL’s commercially viable subsidiaries would be managed by expatriates going forward.
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The source, who requested anonymity due to lack of authorization, stated, “This is same with NNPC Retails (the filling stations arm), NETCO (National Engineering and Technical Company), NPDC (Nigeria Upstream Development Company), etc.”

The source went on to say, “Would it not lead to rivalry and conflict, at the expense of the company’s man-hours, if the expatriates are on M3 NNPC grade (Executive Vice President is M2, Group Chief Executive Officer is M1)?”

The source responded, “Perhaps, it is to instill higher productivity, improved net profit, better efficiency, and operational effectiveness,” when asked why expatriates would be appointed to lead units that were currently commercially viable under native management.

According to NNPCL’s statement, Cordier previously held the position of Vice President at the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. The statement also stated that Cordier’s appointment was in support of the company’s ongoing repositioning for improved growth, performance, and service delivery.

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The statement included the following: “Cordier, a French/Swiss national, holds a Masters degree in Corporate Finance with Distinction from Paris 9 University. He is a renowned international oil trader.”

He “comes into the role with a rich background spanning over 30 years in physical oil, oil derivatives, and risk management, with significant experience in reorganizing and creating a trading business.” He also has extensive experience in trading.

Kunle Olubiyo, President of the Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, also made a statement regarding the development, stating that NNPCL ought to make an effort to promote the Federal Government’s drive for local content.

“Does it truly intend that there are no skillful Nigerians who could do a similar work, as for the advancement of nearby happy? NNCPL is a national corporation whose mission is to refine petroleum products.

The fact that it has now set out in search of a foreigner demonstrates that it is moving in the wrong direction. Was it founded purely as an oil marketing business? He stated, “I think that move is a misalignment on this part.”

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