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Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari

Mele Kyari and NNPC: Why do we crucify good men?

Fejiro Oliver

As the President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration winds down in glorious departure, mischief makers have rolled up their sleeves to drag in the mud the hard-earned credibility of Mr. Mele Kyari, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), alongside Mr. Umar Ajiya, the company’s group executive director, Finance and Accounting.

No plot can be more mischievous than the desperation to tarnish one’s image by concocting lies to mislead the public. Mischief makers working for God-knows paymaster(s), have continued to cast aspersions on Mr. Kyari, an indefatigable trailblazer par excellence and other senior officials of the NNPC Limited.

They have continued to promote mischievous write ups, obviously tailored to pull down Mr. Kyari because of the streams of accolades he has received in recent times for his contribution to the growth and development of Nigeria’s energy sector.

This is because there is either a seeming lack of understanding or sheer mischief by a section of the media on the operations of the NNPC over the past few days.

To set the record straight, oil and gas entities across the globe operate with partnerships, subsidiaries and Joint Ventures. Saudi ARAMCO for instance has over eight subsidiaries; Aramco Americas, Aramco Shared Benefits Company (ASBCO), Saudi Petroleum International, Inc. (SPII), Saudi Refining, Inc. (SRI), Aramco Training Services Company (ATSC) and Motiva Enterprises LLC which owns and operates North America’s largest refinery in Port Arthur, Texas with a crude capacity of more than 600,000 barrels a day. The company also operates the country’s largest base oil plant and a network of 25 distribution terminals that support delivery of gasoline and diesel to more than 5,200 retail outlets under the Shell and 76® brands.

Just like Saudi Aramco, the NNPCL has 8 functional joint ventures and partnerships with Sahara Group that predates Mele Kyari as GMD of the defunct NNPC and now NNPCL.

Owing to the sensitive nature of the NNPCL operations and as a global brand, there are situations of urgency and security warranting the company to maintain aircraft charter service of which an affiliate of Sahara Group operates. The charter service has never been shrouded in secrecy, therefore for a discredited news outlet to suggest anything to the contrary fits into the hire-for-writing history of such an outlet.

As far back as 2011, and for strategic operations reasons, the NNPC reduced its stake in the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project to 30 percent, from 49 percent, to secure much-needed investment. At that time, the NNPC offered 4 percent of its stake to LNG Japan, which is jointly owned by trading firms Sumitomo and Sojitz; 3 percent to Itochu, and a further 2 percent to a joint venture between Sahara Energy and U.S.-based Sempra Energy.

In keeping to the tradition of excellence owing to verifiable deliverables of the partnerships and JVs, the NNPC through one of its JVCs, West Africa Gas Ltd (WAGL), Sahara Energy unveiled two LPG vessels in Ulsan, South Korea in 2017 and have executed other JVs on OML 18, Operator of a PSC block, FTSA partner for OML 11. Also, both companies own some assets as Production Sharing Contract specifically on OmL 284, 286, and 18, 148 as well as 228.

A tainted story cannot undermine the fact that Sahara Energy is in over 27 countries, with 16 in Africa, and has an integrated value chain where they have crude assets, refineries and storage and distribution expertise.

In 2022, the NNPC Limited and Sahara Group Joint Venture took delivery of two 23,000 CBM Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) vessels at the Hyundai MIPO Shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea.

The new vessels, MT BARUMK and MT SAPET, increased the NNPC and Sahara Group’s investment to over $300 million, approaching the JV’s $1 billion gas infrastructure commitment by 2026.

The vessels are part of the federal government’s commitment to the domestication of gas in Nigeria through several initiatives and increasing seamless supply under the LPG Penetration Framework and LPG Expansion Plan.

Both groups have further through the West Africa Gas Limited (WAGL) reiterated their commitment to develop and construct jetties across West African countries to boost Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) supply and penetration as part of several efforts to take advantage of opportunities in the energy transition space.

The partnership has seen immense transformation of Africa’s largest thermal plant, Egbin Power Plc and has as one of its entities the Ikeja Electric (one of the largest private distribution companies in sub-Saharan Africa) and First Independent Power Limited (FIPL).’

The President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is also not in a hurry to ‘sack’ political office holders neither is he running against deadline to change the leadership of NNPC Limited that is tenure-based governed by the CAMA law and will most likely abide by as one of the pillars of democracy governed by law, with him as a follower of same law.

It is apparent that the media can do better by fact-checking and not yield to some amorphous “source” just to gain traction with fake news.

Kyari’s achievements as NNPC boss have been recognized both locally and internationally. His achievement has been described as unrivaled in the history of the National Oil Company.

He was responsible for the Open Government Initiative that ushered in an era of transparency and accountability in the NNPC’s operations. He has also kept his promise to the NNPC and Nigeria by increasing the nation’s oil reserves to 40 billion barrels, from 37 billion barrels.

The NNPC boss has also assisted in resolving disputes around deep offshore bloc to further boost the nation’s oil production, and ensuring the successful flag-off of the construction of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline project.

The NNPC Group which became a CAMA Company in 2021 following the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, grew its profit from N287bn in 2020 to N674bn in 2021 under Kyari’s leadership.

The N674bn profit posted by the NNPC Group in the 2021 financial period represents an increase of N387bn or 134.8 per cent when compared to the N287bn recorded in 2020. The 2021 financial year made it the fourth consecutive year that the NNPC will be making its Audited Financial Statement public.

This was one of the innovations made by Kyari when he took over the helm of affairs of the National Oil Company.

Since he assumed office, Kyari has pursued his Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE) agenda, a five-step strategic roadmap for NNPC’s attainment of efficiency and global excellence.

Fejiro Oliver is the Managing Editor of Secret Reporters

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