By Prof. Oladimeji Akere
There appears to be an undeclared war being waged against the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and its Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Mallam Mele Kyari.
Since President Bola Tinubu took office on May 29, 2023, there has been a coordinated attack on the company by vested interests using proxies.
After the phantom Kyari suspension eposide, proponents of the nefarious agenda, immediately unfolded their Plan B.
Precisely on Sunday, June 11. This time, rather than adopt an indirect strategy, they opted to tackle Kyari head on. This time their arrowhead was Timi Frank, the disgraced former Deputy national Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who over time has become a gun for hire to any interested individual. Frank, in a statement titled, “Why Buhari’s Ministers, CEOs should sink with Emefiele” said Tinubu’s suspension and arrest of Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele should be followed up with similar treatment meted to heads of government agencies alleged to have serially abused their offices and diverted public funds. He noted in that article:
“Those who illegally benefited from illegal allocation of oil blocks and marginal oil fields championed by the NNPCL and the CBN’s Money Redesign Policy must be fished out and prosecuted”
While on the surface, it appeared Frank meant well, it was clear from the general tone of the statement that it was a hatchet job meant to turn Tinubu against the NNPCL helmsman.
Frank’s call fell flat and went unheeded by Tinubu who has remained focus on fixing the rot in the Nigerian economy and society engendered by the sycophancy of men like Frank who saw nothing wrong in the previous government style of governance until he fell out of favour.
With the Frank gambit failing, the conspirators have launched a new offensive. This time their stooge is a so-called activist called Deji Adeyanju. On Friday, June 16, Adeyanju, in a tweet called on President Tinubu to restructure the “rotten and bigoted NNPC”. According to him:
“The NNPC or Northern Nigeria Petroleum Company? The all-Muslim top 20 executives in NNPC makes Nigeria look like a joke. President Tinubu must restructure the rotten & bigoted NNPC of Buhari.”
He gave the following names as those in the top 20 list:
• Mele Kyari (GMD)
• Umar Ajiya (Chief Finance Officer/Finance and Accounts)
• Yusuf Usman (Chief Operating Officer)
• Farouk Garba Sa’id (Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services)
• Mustapha Yakubu (Chief Operating Officer, Refining and Petrochemicals)
• Hadiza Coomassie (Corporate Secretary/Legal Adviser to the Corporation)
• Omar Ibrahim (Group General Manager, International Energy Relations)
• Kallamu Abdullahi (GGM Renewable Energy)
9. Ibrahim Birma (GGM Governance Risk and Compliance)
• Bala Wunti (GGM NAPIMS)
• Inuwa Waya (MD NNPC Shipping)
• Musa Lawan (MD Pipelines And Product Marketing)
• Mansur Sambo (MD Nigeria Petroleum Development Company)
• Lawal Sade (MD Duke Oil/NNPC Trading Company)
• Malami Shehu (MD Port Harcourt Refining Company)
• Muhammed Abah (MD Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company)
• Abdulkadir Ahmed (MD Nigeria Gas Marketing Company)
• Salihu Jamari (MD Nigeria Gas and Power Investment Company Limited)
• Mohammed Zango (MD NNPC Medical Services)
• Sarki Auwalu (Director, Department of Petroleum Resources)
Before responding to Adeyanju’s tweet, let me first present to Nigerians, a brief profile of him Adeyanju, a man of questionable morals, came into national limelight around 2014 in the build up to the 2015 general elections. At the time he floated around Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) top brass shaking them down for money and other favours. When the PDP lost the presidency to the APC, Mr. Adeyanju turned an emergency activist making a show of criticizing any and every step taken by the Muhammadu Buhari administration but it was all a ruse; a “notice me” strategy to attract the attention of the power brokers in the APC. It worked because after a while, Mr. Adeyanju turned on his former benefactor, the PDP, deriding the party, it leadership and members in a new found “activism” powered by secret funds by his new masters in the APC.
He has since been flitting surreptitiously from one politician to the other toadying up to them to assure his next meal. Whoever failed to “play ball” among them was fair game for blackmail But enough of his character! Let us engage the substance or otherwise of his argument.
Adeyanju has listed the names of northerners who he says are occupying the top 20 positions in the NNPC. Let us see if his position checks out.
To begin with, there is no longer any organization in Nigeria know as NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation). That entity ceased to exist in 2021 with the coming into being of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021. The PIA, a revolutionary piece of legislation hailed by oil and gas industry experts as the best thing to happen to the Nigerian oil and gas sector since independence, scrapped the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), a government-owned entity and created in its place, a commercial entity known as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL). The Act also abolished long standing entities in the upstream and downstream sectors of the Nigerian oil and gas industry. These were the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Petroleum Products Price Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Petroleum Equalization Fund (Management) Board (PEF(M)B). In the place of these agencies were created the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), which assumed the upstream functions of the defunct DPR, and the Nigerian Midstream, Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), which took over the downstream functions of the DPR, PPPRA and PEF(M)B.
By the creation of the NNPCL, Kyari transmuted from being the GMD of NNPC to the GCEO of NNPCL. A simple search in Google would have helped Mr. Adeyanju to get his facts right. But in his haste to execute the agenda of his paymasters, he goofed badly.
Let us look at the names Mr. Adeyanju has bandied as occupying the “all-Muslim top 20 executives in NNPC”.
A simple investigation would have revealed to him that of the 20 names he listed, only Kyari and Ajiya could be said to still hold their positions as captured in the phoney line up.
Others have since retired or transfered to new divisions while one was never part of the company. Let’s take a look at them.
For instance, while Omar Ibrahim who was Group General Manager, International Energy Relations retired in 2020, Yusuf Usman ,Chief Operating Officer, and Farouk Garba Sa’id, Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services retired in 2021, Mustapha Yakubu, Chief Operating Officer, Refining and Petrochemicals, retired in 2022 while Hadiza Coomassie, Corporate Secretary/Legal Adviser to the Corporation was replaced by Chidi Momah the same year.
Further more, a little effort of Adeyanju’s part would have shown him that Malami Shehu, MD Port Harcourt Refining Company, retired since 2020 while Inuwa Waya, MD NNPC Shipping, Musa Lawan, MD Pipelines and Product Marketing, retired in 2021. Mansur Sambo, MD Nigeria Petroleum Development Company was replaced the same year.
The inclusion of Sarki Auwalu, the last name in his 20-man list is clearly laughable. Auwalu, the last Director of Department of Petroleum Resources, was not an employee of the NNPC. He retired in 2021 following the scrapping of the DPR as prescribed by the PIA. The DPR before it ceased to exist was a regulatory agency, which had existed for decades independently of the NNPC and even oversighted its upstream activities. How Auwalu managed to find his way into the list of employees of the NNPC, surely must be one of the greatest mysteries of our time.
What is clear from all of this is that Mr. Adeyanju is his bid to satisfy his patrons copied and pasted on his Twitter handle, a jaded WhatsApp platform message created by some mischief makers to create ethnic disharmony in the country. It says a lot about his predilection for mischief and sloppiness that he could not spare a moment to organize a simple “racket” for his benefactors who must have addled eggs dripping down their faces with faux pas concerning this list.
Prof. Akere, an electrical engineer writes in from Lagos.