President Goodluck Jonathan has violated the provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act 2007 (as amended) by his appointment of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, already serving as a Non-Executive Director on the Board of the CBN, to a similar position on the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Peoples Daily investigation has shown.
Section 10 sub-section (2) of CBN Act, stated very clearly that a Director of the CBN cannot take up a similar appointment in any government establishment, whether federal, state or local government.
Specifically, the relevant section of the Act says: “A Director appointed pursuant to this section shall be a person of recognised standing and experience in any of economics, law, public administration, business administration, accounting, banking and finance, but while a Director of the Bank, he shall not hold Office as a Director on the Board of any Federal, State or Local Government or of any other body:
“Provided that he may hold Office as a Director of any private, commercial, financial, agricultural, industrial, or other organisation or institution so long as his duties in respect thereof do not conflict with his duties as a Director of the Bank”.
Oronsaye was first appointed onto the Board of the CBN on July 31, 2008 for a four-year term, by virtue of his position then as Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance. His appointment was renewed last year by President Jonathan.
But while still serving his first term as Director on the CBN Board, Oronsaye was mid 2012 appointed onto the Board of the NNPC yet again as a Director, in clear violation of the provisions of Section 10 sub-section 2 of the CBN Act.
Our efforts to get the reaction of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim, whose office coordinates appointments into the boards of federal establishments, on why the President was not properly advised in this regard, failed.
Since last week Thursday, one of our reporters tried to reach the SGF through his Special Assistant on Media, Sam Nwaobasi for comment, but to no avail. Initially, when the reporter made an attempt, she was told that Mr. Nwaobasi was out of the office.
Besides, he neither answered repeated calls to his cell phone nor replied to an SMS sent to it inquiring about the obvious breach.
Oronsaye was the Principal Secretary to the President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2008. He also served as the Permanent Secretary, State House, during that period and chaired various committees within the same period.
He was appointed Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance on July 31, 2008, on account of which he represented the ministry on the CBN Board. He was, however, re-appointed even after his retirement from service by Jonathan.
In February 2012, Oronsaye was appointed on the Petroleum Revenue Task Force headed by Nuhu Ribadu. It was set up by Jonathan to look into the affairs of the oil industry from 2002 – 2012. But while serving in this same committee headed by Ribadu, which was technically probing the NNPC, Oronsaye took up appointment into the board of the oil corporation.
It became a contradiction of sort that he was serving in a committee probing the corporation, a board member of which he is.
Legal luminary, Femi Falana had in December, 2012 condemned the appointment of both Oronsaye and Ben Otti into the NNPC Board, saying it was “illegal, null and void as it violates Sections 2 & 3 of the NNPC Act, which provide that NNPC shall have six members and an alternate Chairman.
“Specifically, the Board shall consist of the Petroleum Minister, who shall be the Chairman; Managing Director of the NNPC; Director-General, Federal Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and three persons appointed by the President and an alternate chairman. “Instead of seven members, NNPC has nine members with the appointment of Messrs Oronsaye and Otti”, Mr. Falana decried.
He added that since the NNPC Act has not been amended to validate the increase in the membership of the Board, Oronsaye and Otti should be removed. He, however, vowed to pursue all legal means to oust them if they were retained in the NNPC Board in contravention of the law.