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Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has appointed a new head in the person of Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu for NNPC on Tuesday as part of an overhaul aimed at rooting out corruption and mismanagement in the Nation’s economy mainstay.

Joseph Dawha and Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu
Joseph Dawha and Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu

Buhari, who was elected in March, has made clear his desire to clean up the oil sector, which provides the government with about 75 percent of its revenue. He dissolved the NNPC board in June as a first step towards that objective.

“Dr. Kachikwu prior to this appoointment was the executive vice chairman and general counsel of Exxon-Mobil (Africa).

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Kachikwu has a law degree from the University of Nigeria and also studied at Harvard Law School before embarking on a career that first took him to the financial sector then Texaco Nigeria Limited and later Exxon-Mobil.

President Buhari, who was inaugurated on May 29, is yet to appoint his cabinet and is seen until now as likely to keep the oil portfolio for himself rather than trust others with an industry that has long been enmeshed in corruption scandals.

The NNPC represents national interests in oil and gas exploration, manages the energy sector and is also the oil sector regulator.

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Constitutionally, NNPC is meant to remit all revenues to the country’s treasury but the act establishing it allows the state firm to retain what it needs to cover costs with little or no oversight.

The result of this is a legal grey area that has been source of abuse for decades by officials.

In June, the National Economic Council said the NNPC had earned 8.1 trillion naira ($41 billion) from 2012 until May 2015, but only paid 4.3 trillion to the federal government.

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And a 2013 investigation by the then central bank governor Lamido Sanusi found the state oil company had failed to pay $20 billion in revenues to government accounts between January 2012 and July 2013.

The NNPC said the money could be accounted for and was therefore not lost. A subsequent audit by PwC found that some funds were unaccounted for, but bemoaned a lack of cooperation and issued an audit with extensive caveats.

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