In the last six months since the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration took over the leadership of the country, no organization in this country and its officials have come under attack more than the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd)
At the last count, this writer has observed no less than eight direct attacks on top management staff of the organization especially Malam Mele Kyari its Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO). A cursory look at these attacks shows the absence of any clear and organized thinking on the part of the writers of these articles who for the most part, hide under pseudonyms to carry out what are obviously hatchet jobs for their sponsors.
In the main, the detractors of Kyari and his management staff have done nothing but rehash unfounded allegations and accusations while adding fresh unsubstantiated ones. At the heart of these allegations is nothing but an attempt to get President Tinubu to fire Kyari and some senior management officials to pave the way for the sponsors of these baseless write-ups.
Last month when some leading officials of the NNPC retired, the sponsors of these diatribes against Kyari and his officials were sorely disappointed when they didn’t get a look in from President Tinubu.
Disappointed, they have gone back to re-strategize. Their latest effort was unveiled a few days ago through a certain Titi Omobude. To make their caper a bit more far-reaching and to attract the attention of President Tinubu who thus far has ignored their antics, they have launched a wholesale attack on the NNPC Ltd itself accusing it of nearly every evil under the sun.
I will not bore Nigerians with the details of this latest misadventure but will only show with facts and figures the fallacy of their arguments one of which is that the NNPCL is steeped in ineptitude arising from corruption, lacks transparency, has stacked up crippling debts and delays in making Final Investment Decisions. The writer also accused the company of being responsible for Nigeria’s failure to meet its oil production quota thus reducing Nigeria’s earnings from oil.
These accusations betray not only the writer’s mischief aimed at not only de-marketing Kyari and NNPCL but more importantly to mislead Nigerians. But the truth as the writer, Aldous Huxley, has stated, is that facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. The facts in this case, eloquently point in the directions of solid performance by the NNPCL in the four years that Kyari has acted as helmsman of the organization.
To start at the very beginning, the writer accused the NNPCL of lack of transparency under Kyari. Nothing could be further from the truth. If there is any GCEO of the NNPCL from the time of its establishment in the 1970s to the post-Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) that has done more to open up the NNPCL to greater scrutiny, that man is Kyari. Under his leadership, the NNPCL has transmuted from being regarded by many as an opaque entity with its activities shrouded in mystery to an organization based on globally acceptable best practices. As a matter of fact, one of Kyari’s first acts in office was to unveil his “Roadmap to Global Excellence” driven by the TAPE agenda, TAPE standing for Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence.
It is on record that through the TAPE agenda, Kyari broke with the dark past of the company and for the time in the organisation’s 44 years of existence presented an audited report of the company’s accounts for 2020 in September 2021! The icing on the cake was that the company posted a profit of N287 billion to end previous decades of losses suffered by the organization.
Another lie packaged in that hatchet job by Omobude is the one that the NNPCL has delayed in making Final Investment Decisions (FIDs). The reality is that the organization has been active in this regard, attracting foreign investments in a way that had not been done in the past. Some of the FIDs taken so far include the $3.6 billion methanol plant in Bayelsa(this $3.6 billion methanol plant will be the largest methanol plant in Africa and the first in Nigeria, and is expected to create 35,000 direct and indirect jobs and additional 5,000 permanent jobs during the operations phase in 2024. It is expected to produce 10,000 tons of methanol daily when it becomes fully operational in 2024), execution of a $260 million funding agreement for ANOH Gas Processing Company Limited (AGPC) among the NNPC, Seplat and a consortium of seven banks; the launch of Nigerian Upstream Cost Optimization Programme (NUCOP); award of $1.5 billion contract for rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery; commercialization of OML 143 gas; and execution of OML 118 (Bonga) Agreements between NNPC and partners.
There are others like the shareholder agreement for Brass Petroleum Product Terminal (BPPT); EPC contract to build the Maiduguri Emergency Power Project where NNPCL partnered China Machinery Engineering Company (CMEC) and General Electric (GE) to execute Engineering, Procurement Construction (EPC) contract for the procurement of equipment for a 50 MW emergency power project in Maiduguri, Borno State.
The charge against the NNPCL of being responsible for Nigeria’s failure to meet its oil production quota flies in the face of available evidence. Every discerning Nigerian knows that in the last decade, Nigeria has battled the theft of its oil by an organized criminal syndicate who breached the nation’s oil pipeline to steal oil for sale through back door channels. Until Kyari’s coming as boss of NNPCL, no serious attempt had been made to arrest the situation.
As Dunni Aladefa, an oil industry expert noted in a recent article on the subject, Kyari had taken concrete steps to check the malfeasance. He notes:
“It is a well-known fact that the NNPCL under Kyari’s leadership, designed “The Crude Theft Monitoring Application”. The portal has application options for reporting incidents, with prompt follow up and responses, and another for crude sales documents validation.
“Even before the application was unveiled, Kyari took senior officials of the Nigerian government including the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, Gen. Lucky Irabor, then Chief of Defence Staff of the Nigerian military, and Mr. Gbenga Komolafe, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission(NUPRC) to Niger Delta creeks to put the menace under control. This gambit paid off as within a short while, Kyari announced the discovery of a four-kilometre illegal oil connection line from the Forcados Terminal into the sea where for nine years criminals had been siphoning Nigeria’s oil.
“These efforts paid off as Fourth Quarter figures released by the NNPCL showed that besides Nigeria’s oil production rising to 1.6 million barrels from the erstwhile figure of 1.2 million, the country had regained its position as Africa’s largest producer ahead of Algeria (1.021mb/d) and Angola (1.088 mb/d.
These figures and other achievements of Kyari as helmsman of NNPC (L) are easily verifiable because they are in the public domain”.
As for the allegation of corruption levelled against the NNPCL, the writer gives his game away by dredging up ancient allegations of corruptions levelled against the company in the years long before Kyari appeared on the scene as GCEO. How any sane individual wants Kyari to be responsible for alleged infractions of individuals who have long left the scene, beats the imagination. It is basically a classic case of giving a dog a bad name before handing it.
Nigerians including President Tinubu are wise to the antics of Omobude and his sponsors. President Tinubu whose attention is being desperately sought by the sponsors of this article knows like millions of Nigerians do, that Kyari’s leadership of the NNPCL has had a salutary effect on the management of Nigeria’s oil resources. His confidence in Kyari and his management team remain unshaken despite maudlin attempts to distract attention for the serious task of governance Mr. President is addressing his mind to.