Nigerians protesting corruption in the oil industry. Photo credit: The New Age
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has made some bold choices in recent weeks. He aims to push the various branches of the Nigerian government to make more effective and transparent decisions.
Last week, President Jonathan fired several of the highest executives of Nigeria’s state owned oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC). Pres. Jonathan was facing extreme pressure from his constituents, following a major scandal which was exposed in May through a report written by Nigeria’s House of Representatives.
The report found that the government had been over-subsidizing oil, providing subsidies for 59 million liters of fuel per day, while Nigeria had been consuming an average of 35 million liters per day. This false reporting on behalf of the NNPC cost the Nigerian government about $6.8 billion in the past two years. With increasing public anger, Pres. Jonathan took action and fired NNPC Director Austen Oniwon as well as several other executives. Oniwon will be replaced with Andrew Yakubu, a chemical engineer with previous experience in the oil industry.
The report provided by the House of Representatives displays a concrete movement towards greater transparency, and Pres. Jonathan’s decision seems to symbolize a turning point in his presidency. Earlier this year, Nigeria’s former corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu was given the task of reviewing oil production, exports and revenues paid to the government to ensure that funds were being allocated appropriately. These actions show that Jonathan is responding to the demands of the Nigerian people and holding government officials accountable for their choices.
It will be interesting to watch how these changes play out in Nigerian society in the coming months.
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