Mele Kyari: Leading NNPCL Along The Transparency And Accountability Path

By Adewole Kehinde

“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result”Bob Proctor

There is no denying that the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mallam Mele Kyari has been through thick and thin with his transparent leadership style in repositioning the company.

The headline “SERAP sues NNPC over missing $2.04bn, N164b oil revenues.” had the electronic, print and online media buzzing. SERAP is suing NNPC Limited in response to the Auditor General of the Federation’s 2020 audit report, which revealed that NNPC had neglected to deposit funds into the Federation Account.

To be honest, transparency and accountability were two topics Mallam Kyari spoke passionately about during his inauguration.

He made it clear that accountability and openness will be the cornerstones of his management style.

Two weeks after making his first speech, he swiftly followed it up by announcing his management’s strategic goals.

He christened it Transparency, Accountability, and Performance Excellence (TAPE).

Since then, he has demonstrated responsibility and transparency by doing what no other management before him has done: opening the corporation’s books. To shed light on joint venture finances, the Corporation and its 19 subsidiaries registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 1990 as amended, as well as the National Petroleum Investment and Management Services (NAPIMS), published their 2018 and 2019 audited financial statements.

The AFS was made available for viewing and examination by all interested persons on the Corporation’s website. This is the first time that the Corporation has released its AFS to the public in this way.

I recall that Nigeria’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has been in the vanguard of the sustained demand for the NNPC to make public the financial statements of its operations and those of its subsidiaries which Kyari did.

Was he merely showing off? Why would he take the lid off what many people perceive as a furious pot of corruption? He explains why. Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited is owned by Nigerians, meaning that over 200 million Nigerians are the shareholders. This means he and his team at NNPC Limited are employed by Nigerians to help manage the industry upon which the National Budget is benchmarked.

Therefore, the same shareholders have a right to know how their business is being managed; to establish whether the enterprise is running at a loss or profitably. Keeping the books open will place a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of the managers.

Kyari is not afraid of responsibility and accountability and the records are there to show it. In 2020, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited published the 2018 audited account. The result showed a loss of N803billion.

This would never have been possible if Mal. Mele Kyari had not summoned the courage to go public with the 2018 financial statement.

The huge loss in 2018 made them stop leakages, improve on forethought and introduce cost-saving measures.

Kyari says there is a rebranded Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited with a fresh panorama and obligation to transparency and accountability in consonance with the global principles of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

He has kicked a fresh breath of openness into the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. He has refused to follow the crowd. He has decided to do things differently; to account to his employers, Nigerians.

Kyari’s insistence to depart from the path of past GMDs of the Corporation who kept the books sealed has already set him apart from the crowd.

No wonder the United States 2020 Report on Human Rights Practices in Nigeria released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour under the US Department of State gave more than a passing glance at the state of human rights in Nigeria.

It exhumed buried carcasses of corruption in Nigeria’s public service. But the same report also highlighted an almost neglected radiance of rainbow in the operations of Nigeria’s petroleum products mother hen, the NNPCL.

The 2020 Report is a compendium of the good, the bad and the unwholesome in Nigeria’s struggle to mount the ugly garment of corruption as well as cases of human rights violations, some of which showed a naked attempt by the government to suppress free speech and press freedom. But the same report holds out a reed of redemptive grace. It spared the nation’s blushes when it highlighted the new order of transparency at NNPCL.

In Section 4 of the over 16,500-word report, it states: “In June (2020) the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (now Limited) released audited 2018 financial statements, the first such release since its establishment in 1977. The corporation also published audited accounts of its 20 subsidiaries and business divisions. In December the federal government launched the Financial Transparency Policy and Portal, commonly referred to as the Open Treasury Portal, to increase transparency and governmental accountability of funds transferred by making the daily treasury statement public. The Open Treasury Portal required all ministries, departments, and agencies to publish daily reports of payments greater than five million naira ($13,300). The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and other anti-corruption watchdog groups hailed the government for providing better access to government spending data.”

As far as is known to most Nigerians, this is the first time that a report emanating from the United States on the status of corruption across the globe would cast a sector in Nigeria in a brilliant light. It’s always been tale after tale of corruption, sleight of hand, and outright stealing of public funds.

But NNPC appears to have turned a new chapter since July 7, 2019, when Mele Kyari, a geologist and earth scientist versed in crude exploration, refinery, marketing, and management of the petroleum value chain became the 19th GMD of NNPC. He was as forthright as he was blunt about his determination to remove every veil of opacity that had draped the operations of the nation’s petroleum behemoth. His over three decades in the industry before he is appointed GMD thoroughly lends him to the job.

His academic background and industry experience mean he knows everything and anything about crude oil production. He can tell the soil texture that bears oil and gas. He can sniff crude oil and gas from the deepest part of the earth. Beyond that, he can also sell the same. He understands the global market, its foibles, volatility, and treachery. Yes, the global oil market is a treacherous one. It can hurt and heal. It can break and make. Some call it the Dutch Disease. Others allude to it as the Resource Curse.

Kyari has shown to the world that Nigeria’s oil and gas sector is no longer mired in the cesspit of venality and fiscal tardiness; that the sector has taken off on a journey in the pathway of transparency and accountability. This is cheery news and it gets even better when his modest effort is not lost on the global community. International bodies like the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) which described it as a ‘significant milestone’, and the Open Government Partnership, among others, have variously commended this new order of openness in NNPC.

I also recall that on 28th January 2024, the Global transparency body, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) scored the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) very high in its latest global assessment.

The EITI’s Deputy Executive Director, Bady Baldé, made this known when he led an EITI delegation to the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Ltd, Mele Kyari, in Abuja.

Mr. Baldé said the delegation’s visit was to communicate the group’s findings in its recent global assessment to the company.

He said NNPC Ltd fared very well among companies in the same category, adding that only Equinox of Norway fared better than NNPC Ltd in the assessment.

The NNPC Ltd.’s partnership with EITI/NEITI has made it a much more reliable company.

With the arrival of the Petroleum Industry Act in 2021, NNPCL had transformed into an integrated commercial entity focused on transparency and accountability.

Since NNPC became a limited company, I have observed that transparency, accountability, research, technology, and innovation have been the key drivers of the ongoing transformation of the company.

Over the last five years, the NNPCL has been pushing the agenda of transparency, accountability, and performance excellence. I am glad to say that the NNPCL is setting very high standards, and this is a journey that the management team is committed to going forward.

Transparency could make any organization attractive to its partners and potential investors and this transparency has created tremendous value for the company in its quest to compete with its global peers.

Kyari’s hard work has played a significant role in the company’s success and has contributed significantly to the growth of the energy sector in Nigeria.

The NNPC Ltd, which has been in transition since the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) has been championing the push to transform Nigeria into a gas-powered nation in keeping with its enormous natural endowment with over 209 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves.

I am also aware that the NNPC Ltd is building gas infrastructure such as the OB-3 Gas Pipeline, and AKK Gas Pipeline to deepen the use of gas in the domestic market, while it is also promoting the West Africa Gas Pipeline and the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline, as well as the Train 7 of the NLNG and number of Floating LNG Projects to deliver gas to the global market.

Also, the NNPC Ltd is aggressively expanding its portfolio in the power sector to make the company a truly rounded energy company. Apart from its stakes in several Independent Power Plants such as Afam VI, and Okpai Phases 1 and 2 with a combined installed capacity of 1,420MW, there have been plans to build three new power plants in the AKK Pipeline corridor Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the 1,350MW wholly owned Gwagwalada Power Plant in August last year.

To make the above progress, fortitude is required. I applaud Mal. Mele Kyari for bringing the NNPC back to transparency and accountability, as well as his entire management team.

Adewole Kehinde is the Publisher of Swift Reporters and can be reached via 08166240846; email: kennyadewole@gmail.com

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