By Femi Soneye
From the prism of a media executive who has had unique interactive sessions with Mele Kyari, the verdict is that of a suave, brainy and sophisticated technocrat and CEO. The hardheaded administrator and manager of resources and human capital of unequalled pedigree and finesse has never failed to respond to journalists’ questions and enquiries, reeling out facts and figures with unerring accuracy. A rare gift of oratory power also exhibited by a former Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN).
Kyari, the 19th Group Managing Director of NNPC and a Geologist, was the Group General Manager, Crude Oil, Marketing Division, among other subsidiaries. He obtained a good degree in Geology and Earth Science from the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, far back 1987, according to Wikipedia.
He is never caught off-guard as he oftentimes delivers extemporaneous presentations and speeches with humility and without playing to the gallery. Never stumped for words, no never! With a robust amplification and expatiation, Kyari takes every question fired at him always lively, sparkling and spirited. No doubt, he is nonpareil and peerless among CEOs especially of a multi-billion dollars oil giant like the NNPC.
Pursuing his agenda and vision of Transparency, Accountability, Performance Excellence (TAPE) for the business enterprise to become Africa’s biggest, solid and most successful concern, Kyari also articulated the projects and policies to drive the refloating and reengineering of the corporation. A man of details with undisputable thorough grounding in matters relating to oil exploration, marketing, pipelines and other ancillary services, you would say!
Kyari’s several decades of career at NNPC, no doubt, has eminently and advantageously positioned him as a well-groomed, well-bred and well-informed; learning the ropes over the years from junior staff cadre to the apogee of his career as the GMD/CEO calling the shots on the Executive Management.
Interviewing a brainiac like Kyari poses a great professional challenge as the interviewer must have imperatively done his home work, research the subjects and be up to date. Otherwise, an encounter with him may result into a change of roles midway into the interview – the interviewer (reporter) turning without knowing to interviewee. Kyari has never known to have suffered what is common to most public figures – brain-fart . One good attribute about Kyari is that he is equally a good listener and very receptive to good ideas. Give it to him, he is never destitute of innovative ideas, initiative and programmes, Kyari does not take over the jobs of other CEOs, GMs of subsidiaries as he gives them a great deal of latitude to address the media men about their organization or departments as the team leader and player, not out for publicity.
In one of his several engagements and interactions via Zoom amid COVID-19 pandemic on May 28, 2020, Kyari who exuded confidence, took charge effectively. First, he was seated well ahead of the virtual meeting as the host before 2pm, exchanging pleasantries with the editors and media executives to signal the commencement of the presentation/ interview session.
Superbly conducted was his multimedia presentation which lent credence to a well-prepared CEO, who unarguably knows his onions, deftly amplified by his off-the-cuff expositions which of course, exuded brilliancy and articulation. Conscious that as media executives we will not be satisfied with “hand-outs’’, Kyari did not bore us with a lengthy presentation and summarily signed off for the question and answer session.
Already some of us had got some headline stories but would not stop at that we were armed and trigger-ready to throw a curve at him. Kyari, in taking us through the journey, fielded questions ranging from crude oil oil price in the international market to OPEC politics, crude and petrol thefts, gas production, oil exploration, refineries, petrol subsidy, and pipeline vandalism among others.
The media rating of Kyari is high and he remains a peerless paradigm in public administration and a good PR man for the government and salesman for the NNPC.
This article was first published in The Whistler’s Special Edition ‘Reforming The Giant” in July 2020