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How Baru Steers the NNPC Ship

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Namsowo Bassey
It is apparent that most newspapers and columnists in Nigeria fail to realize the need to guard their reputations jealously like a woman’s integrity that once lost, it becomes a herculean task to redeem. Owing to the not-too-glowing history of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, it is expected that it becomes an easy sport for mischief makers and those who are overly cynical to think any good thing can come out the public oil and gas corporation.

So, it was not something entirely out of the blues when Yemi Adebowale in THISDAY Newspapers of Friday, July 20 engaged in the usual red herring and sophistry to whip up sentiments not just against the NNPC but the very person of the cerebral Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru.

Adebowale failed in the singleness of his narrative to take into consideration many other factors when he wondered why Dr. Baru should still be in office because local premium motor spirit consumption had hit 60 million litres per day.

It would have been instructive if the writer had paid attention to the other impressive strides the NNPC has made under Baru in a little over two years. While it is granted that seems to be some controversy over the actual consumption of PMS in the country, what is worth taking note of is the fact that the last time a committee on national consumption, last sat was during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006, which pegged daily consumption of petrol at 32 million litres daily.

Any honest assessment will show that fuel consumption could not possible have remained at the same average in the past 12 years if one were to apply the mechanics of population growth to that of our consumption habits.

For clarity, the country’s population as at 2012 when it was last collected by the National Bureau of Statistics was around 166.2 million people, and by 2016, the United Nations estimated that we were a country of over 178.5 million. As at 2018, the figure is 196,244,462! So, if under a span of seven years our population has added nearly 20 million additional citizens, what is so shocking that fuel consumption has followed the country’s population growth pattern?

It is on record that the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA and the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, stated in their various reports that the NNPC trucked out 48 million litres daily in 2016 and 50 million litres in 2017, so there is not much difference in what the GMD has often quoted.

The good news is that efforts are on a collaborative venture involving the Federal Ministry of Finance, the World Bank as well as the NBS alongside the NNPC to undertake a global study that would help the country get around the actual PMS consumption the country.

Without a doubt, there is consensus that given our country’s porous borders, illegal goods flow in ceaselessly while from the Nigerian side it is petroleum products owing to Nigeria offering the cheapest source of PMS in the West African sub-region. It is a well-known fact that all our neighbouring countries are selling at over 200 per cent high of the price that is sold at the pump in Nigeria. So, it becomes an incentive for unscrupulous dealers and businessmen to truck out as much as possible, thereby, adding to the numbers.

This point was well enunciated not too long ago by the GMD when he revealed through a detailed presentation on the proliferation of filling stations. According to Dr. Baru, 16 states, which have 61 local government areas with border communities, accounted for 2,201 registered fuel stations with a combined capacity of 144,998,700 litres of petrol.

Similarly, eight states with coastal border communities spread across 24 Local Government Areas (LGAs) accounted for 866 registered fuel outlets with combined petrol tank capacity of 73,443,086 litres.

A further breakdown of his presentation showed that among the states with land border, three LGAs in Ogun State accounted for 633 fuel stations with combined petrol tankage of 40,485,000 litres, while nine LGAs in Borno State had 337 fuel outlets with combined petrol storage capacity of 21,114,480 litres.

The NNPC boss had also stated that Lagos with one LGA as border community has 235 registered fuel stations with total storage facility of 19,916,600 litres.

On the coastal front, Lagos with six LGAs led with 487 registered fuel stations with combined in-built storage capacity of 50,239,560 litres.

“Akwa Ibom, with five LGAs, has 134 registered retail outlets with capacity to store 8,322,986 litres; while Ondo State, with two LGAs, has 110 fuel stations with capacity to store 3,871,320 litres,” Baru had reportedly said.

An objective and discerning mind will know that with the scenario graphically laid bare, there is little dispute that the country is averaging the 60 million litres a day. Besides that, one only needs to look at his 12-point agenda which though ambitious, has revolutionized the operations of the NNPC.

For instance, the corporation commenced and completed the repair of critical oil and gas infrastructure leading to the deferment of about 700,000 bopd. Significantly, the vandalized 36” and 42” IT Export pipeline was completely repaired and restored leading to production operations from NNPC/MPN.

Also, it is easy to ignore the fact that when Baru assumed office in July of 2016, the national daily average production stood at 1.83 million barrel, but he grew it to 1.88 million barrels in 2017, and as at 2018, the nation has achieved its projected target of 2.2 million barrels of oil and condensate per day occasioned by the improvement in security and the resumption of production operations in the forcados Oil Terminal (FOT) and Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT) pipelines.

In another major feat, the troubling issue of JV cash calls have been addressed through negotiation and all arrears of the IOC partners in NNPC’s JVCs have been paid. What this means is that the commitment of the NNPC has rekindled the confidence the nation’s JV partners in pursuing new projects, thus enabling the transition into the self-funding models for cash-calls financed by NNPC/CNL JV of project Cheata which was oversubscribed.

In either a deliberate attempt to mislead the public or the in the general attitude of cynics at mudslinging, Adebowale should have known that the so-called memo written by the Minister of Petroleum, State, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has been dismissed even by its author.

For the avoidance of doubt, Kachikwu at the end of a three-day Nigerian content workshop organised by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, on October 13, 2017 dismissed any attribution to fraud.

Here is what the minister said: “The conversation has been largely misunderstood to border on fraud. It was not on fraud, but on governance and suggestions on ways to go about it. I think a lot of people got it wrong.

“People dwell much on issues of sensationalism and leave the main substance. The group managing director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Dr Maikanti Baru, and I are working together as Mr President had directed to move forward.

“Mr President has urged the two of us to find ways of working together to remove doubt and rift.

“Mr President is a decent man and what he wants to achieve in this country is to leave a legacy for posterity. He is a sincere leader, so nobody should accuse him of engaging in fraud.”

If the author of the ‘sleaze memo’ has clarified on the issues he raised, then people like Adebowale can keep fishing in the dark without a bait as they will come away empty handed.

The cheering news in all of these is that Dr. Baru remains focused and not distracted by the vexatious shenanigans of a few.

Bassey wrote in from Lagos

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