By Engr Olabode Lawanson
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu faces a critical decision amidst the precarious state of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Though the President is believed to have genuine intentions at seeing things get better, only timely decisions can help give life his numerous lofty dreams.
The facts on the ground show Mele Kyari’s tenure as NNPC’s Group Managing Director, spanning over 4 years, has seen a troubling decline in the nation’s oil sector.
Kyari was appointed GMD of NNPC on 7 July 2019; replacing Dr Maikanti Baru who was appointed on 4 July 2016. Mele Kyari has served for 4 years and 3 months. He has been in office for longer than a presidential term of office.
When Mele Kyari assumed office in 2019, Nigeria was producing 2.4 Million barrels a day and the Warri Refinery was operational.
More than four years of Kyari’s leadership has left us with an average of 1.4 Million barrels a day and no working refinery.
If BAT needs a definition of incompetence he need not look further.
All Mele Kyari has done in 4 years is use every artifice and contrivance of deceit and lies to manipulate the system to remain in office.
If Kyari chooses not to pursue the honorable course of resigning, it becomes crucial for BAT to consider relieving him of his duties promptly to save the nation from sinking further.
In the latest attempt to add insult to our national injury, Mele Kyari announced to the world this week at an international energy conference in Abu Dhabi that NNPC was 80% ready for an initial public offering (IPO) of its shares. It has been reported that 2 energy correspondents at the event immediately chuckled in laughter. But the laughter is not at Mele Kyari. The joke is not on him. The laughter is at President Tinubu and the people of Nigeria. The joke is on us.
Practically all produced barrels of oil in Nigeria today have been pledged by Kyari to borrow money to fund useless contracts in NPDC in cahoots with his Kanuri brother Ali Zarrah who is the MD of NPDC.
That is the sole reason why yesterday in the parallel market a dollar sold for 1020 naira for those effecting wire transfers. It is safe to postulate that the naira is naked and exposed because NNPC has stripped our national currency of all its dignified clothing.
The cluelessness and incompetence gets worse with the rest of the leadership. NAPIMS under Bala Wunti as GGM is a co culprit in the nonsense that has befallen the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. He has single-handedly irritated our IOC production partners into withdrawing all funding and investment in the upstream sector.
Between the 3 characters mentioned in this letter the lifeline of Nigeria is bleeding. Briefcase wielding traders, emergency contractors and glorified conmen continue to plunder NNPC and its operations.
The unspoken and sometimes spoken message from the IOCs and independent Nigerian producers is clear: they will not invest in Nigeria unless and until changes are made in NNPC’s leadership.
The state of affairs in-house in NNPC is worse. The morale of NNPC staff across all levels is between non existent and low. The entity that we know as NNPC is currently running on fumes. NNPC is out of steam and almost comatose. NNPC is just a few steps away from the graveyard where NEPA, NITEL, Nigeria Airways and NNSL are buried.
Enough is enough.
BAT must act now or bear the consequences of a coming fire that will burn down everything and everybody. This charade has gone on for too long.
Enough is indeed enough.
A word is enough for the wise.
Engr Olabode Lawanson a retired senior oil executive writes from Abuja.