By Phillip Agbese
I was not surprised when President Bola Tinubu renominated the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited for another term of 5 years. If there’s anything the world can confidently associate with the president, it is his desire to recruit the best hands to get the job done.
I had to take time out of my busy schedule to pen this piece to tell how important this subject matter is to me. This opinion has nothing to do with the House of Representatives.
I will start on a high note. The NNPC helmsman Mele Kyari is a man of courage. He has continued to act like a stranger within the oil and gas sector. He has refused to partake in the pilfering of our commonwealth. He is just a different breed, and I am not surprised that President Tinubu has not only inherited him but made him a focal person in his administration.
The reasons are plausible. The president knows what we do not know. And the buck stops at his table. Those conversant with the inner workings of the oil and gas sector would attest that Mele Kyari has brought tangible innovations in the industry that have yielded and still yield results.
I stumbled on a piece that highlighted alternative funding facilities. In the writer’s words, Mele Kayai has secured alternative facilities for the NPDC and some Joint venture projects to facilitate the further development of assets. They include the N875.75m NPDC OML 65 Alternative Funding and Technical Services package with CMES-OMS Petroleum Development Company and the $3.15bn Alternative Financing Package with Sterling Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) and other partners for the development of NPDC’s OML 13.
The writer also averred that under Mele Kyari, “the NNPC commenced the construction of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project and saved over $300m from the initial amount. The AKK project has the capacity to make available around 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day with expansion of the pipeline systems to double delivery capacity from 1.5BCF/D to over 3.5BCF/D.”
I was not surprised by these feats among a host of others. It goes to tell about the personality of Mele Kyari that buttressed my earlier position, describing him as a different breed. Unfortunately, Nigerians have not had the opportunity to analyse the operations of the NNPC under Mele Kyari. He has been judged even before the beginning of the race.
This is typical in this clime, but Mele Kyari could care less. He has focused on his job, fulfilling his mandate to revitalize our oil and gas sector. I know he is media shy and would rather concentrate on his job than grace the pages of newspapers.
Recall that upon his re-appointment, he urged industry stakeholders to stop issuing goodwill messages on his re-appointment. Instead, he restated his commitment to stabilising the oil industry and enhancing service delivery for increased revenue. This is sublime and the quintessential Mele Kyari.
Nigerians must study Mele Kyari more to understand his passion and commitment to re-positioning the oil and gas sector. The essence of this piece is to advise Nigerians to be circumspect in their analysis of the operations of the NNPC in the oil and gas sector.
A peep into his career would reveal a lot about him. He is familiar with the dynamics in the oil and gas sector. At some point, he was the General Manager of Crude Oil Stock management. He performed creditably well when promoted to Group General Manager to bring his expertise to bear in crude oil stock management and sales.
Hard work and innovation are what Mele Kyari represents. This much he has exuded since his appointment to lead the NNPC. Industry stakeholders can attest this, hence the torrent of goodwill messages that poured in after his re-appointment.
I call him the apostle of transformation for a reason. He has been nicknamed Mr Automation by industry stakeholders as the NNPC IT Division automated the Key Performance Indicator Dashboard across the entire IT Enterprise and Architecture, thereby improving reporting efficiency and real-time performance tracking. The Microsoft Enterprise Additional Licenses for NNPC Digital Transformation initiatives were also activated, leading to an estimated cost-saving of over $1 million. This is outstanding.
There are many more that are not in the public space. I often tried to imagine that if the NNPC boss enjoys praising singing; the media space would have been flooded. But, no, he elected to walk the talk because talk is cheap.
Are we aware that the innovations at the NNPC have been recognized globally? In 2021, the NNPC won an overall Best Company in Oil and Gas Reforms award at the Open Government Partnership Global Awards for implementing a Beneficial Ownership registry to end anonymous companies in their countries.
Establishing the beneficial ownership register helped Nigeria track, reduce and arrest corrupt practices undertaken by companies or beneficial owners of companies. The list is endless, and that is why he is the apostle of transformation.
Agbese is the Deputy Spokesman of the House of Representatives