Nigeria leader fires state oil firm head, orders audit

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday fired the head of the OPEC member’s state-run oil firm NNPC after less than six weeks at the helm and ordered the finance ministry to audit the company’s accounts.

Jonathan appointed Austin Oniwon, executive director of refineries and petrochemicals, to replace Shehu Ladan as group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.

The president also appointed Mike Oghiadomhe as his new chief of staff.

A presidential spokesman declined to give a reason for Ladan’s dismissal, but did say the finance ministry would begin an audit into NNPC’s accounts.

“The president has directed a comprehensive audit of NNPC accounts,” said Ima Niboro, special adviser to the president.

“The finance minister is to engage the services of a world class auditing firm to carry out the audit.”

Corruption and the mismanagement of Nigeria’s oil wealth have left Africa’s most populous country mired in poverty despite five decades of oil extraction.

Politicians accused of embezzling tens of millions of dollars share the blame, but local resentment has targeted oil firms and militant attacks on infrastructure have stopped the country pumping much above two thirds of its capacity.

Nigeria’s parliament is currently finalising legislation that would drastically alter NNPC into profit-driven units able to tap international markets.



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