By Jeremiah Odafe-Igho
Why is Engr. Ahmed Dikko, Managing Director of the Port Harcourt Refining Company, (PHRC) coming under series of what appears to be trumped-up campaign of calumny against his personae?
But why would a man like Dikko who has express Presidential mandate to provide hands-on supervision and coordination of the ongoing comprehensive rehabilitation of Nigeria’s largest crude oil refining facility, Port Harcourt Refinery, be the subject of intense media driven umbrage?
The answer to these questions may be found in the not so new but recently renewed campaign of calumny by some Nigerians to smear the character and personality of individuals in the public space working hard to restore sanity to a society disfigured by a tendency towards provincialism, incompetence, graft and nepotism among many vices plaguing the Nigerian society today.
The idea behind what has come to be described as the Pull Him Down(PHD) syndrome is to target an individual, most of the time a leading light in his field, either in the private sector or government, who is engaged in a sensitive and productive activity on behalf of a group or the society at large, trump up allegations against that individual with a view to discrediting him in the eyes of the public and subsequently render him unworthy to continue to carry out that assignment that attracted the envy and ire of his traducers who most of the time operate facelessly by sponsoring dirty campaigns against him in the media, cyberspace and other platforms.
In the last few months in this country, a number of high profile figures in the cabinet of the President Muhammadu, the Nigerian military, and the Organized Private Sector, have been at the receiving end of this nauseating PHD activity.
Engr. Dikko and his boss, Mallam Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, are merely the latest victim in this never ending malfeasance intended to freeze Nigeria in a state of backwardness. That Nigeria has moved significantly away from the enervating ‘business as usual’ mentality since the administration of Muhammadu Buhari assumed the reins of leadership of this country, is a fact acknowledged globally.
The hemorrhaging of the national economy by buccaneers in power in the years before the coming of the Buhari administration, has stanched by sound fiscal and monetary policies instituted by the Buhari government. More importantly, the NNPC, which before May 2015, was akin to a courtesan ravaged by all manner of lascivious men, has become a chaste, prim and proper damsel keeping the randy men at bay.
Today, the NNPC once reviled as a cash cow milked by officials of governments of the past for personal reasons, and described as opaque on account of the secrecy that surrounded its operations, is today one of the most efficiently run corporations in the world with strong ethical commitment to sound corporate governance. From the time of Dr. Maikanti Baru, the late former Group Managing Director(GMD) to its present helmsman, Malam Mele Kyari, the NNPC has become irrevocably endured to excellence and sound business management.
The ongoing rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery is one of the key planks of this policy.
Given the significance and magnitude of the task, only a thoroughbred, a professional knowledgeable not only in the technical aspects of the job but one also nuanced in the matter of administration and coordination, would effectively deliver on the assignment particularly as President Buhari has set the rehabilitation of the refinery, Nigeria’s largest till date, as one of the priorities of his administration.
It was thus not surprising that the NNPC would turn to Dikko, a man who had in the decades he has worked with the corporation beginning from his first stint at Kaduna Refining and Petrochemicals Company limited, where he worked in the Operations and Engineering & Technical Services Departments, he has traversed units and departments within the NNPC until finally rising to the position of Managing Director of the Port Harcourt Refining Company Limited (PHRC) in March 2020.
He was charged with key task of delivering the Rehabilitation Project of the Refinery and bring its facilities to optimal production capacity and sustainable operations. Phase 1 of the Rehab Project which is the integrity study and inspection has been completed. The Project is in the second Phase with the signing of the EPC contract for the rehabilitation with Maire Tecnimont SpA and the subsequent Technical kick off meeting in May, 2021.
Dikko, A fellow of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers, FNSCh.E, with extensive knowledge in Project Management, Process Engineering and Plant Operations is bringing his knowledge and experience to bear in his new assignment as he had during his time at the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas where between 2006 and 2020 he was part of the success story of Train 6 and Train 7 Projects.
It was inevitable as has become customary in this clime that an individual like Dikko, who in the course of his career in NNPC, has received commendations, recognitions, and awards. Notably amongst them are the GMDs commendation for roles as a pioneer engineer of the Nigerian Content Division which set the grounds for the establishment of the NCDMB. MD NLNG commendation for the successful commissioning of Train 6 and recently, GMDs commendation for roles in the achievement of the FID for Train 7 expansion Project of NLNG, nominated and voted as the ‘Most Innovative Public Servant of the Year’ at the Democracy Heroes Award 2021, would become the target of individuals who benefited from the rot within the system, which he has been mandated by both the leadership of the NNPC and President Buhari to transform.
The circulation of stories in the media and cyberspace regarding alleged but unsubstantiated malfeasance at the PHRC is an intrinsic attempt to stop Engr. Dikko in his tracks and scuttle whatever plan he has through his adroit and focus management of the PHRC, to uproot every grace of corruption, sloth, and backwardness in the company.
Nigerians are wise to their antics and are not buying the saddled eggs they are vending. Engr. Dikko and his team are engaged in a delicate national assignment and should not allow themselves to be distracted by faceless charlatans seeking to hark the NNPC and indeed, Nigeria as an entity, back to the dark days of reckless pillaging of national resources.
Odafe-Igho, a public affairs commentator sent in this piece from Abuja