Mele Kyari: The NNPC Limited’s Dream, Hope, And Vision

By Adewole Kehinde

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”Charles Darwin

Without fanfare, Mele Kyari celebrated his 59th birthday on Monday, January 8, 2024. Even the wealthiest Nigerians who are acquainted with him find it difficult to understand his straightforward way of living.

With his tireless work ethic, compassionate demeanour, and flawless magical touch, Kyari possesses a wealth of diverse information, ideas, and experience that he has utilised to elevate NNPC Limited to a remarkable position of power in Africa and beyond.

However, Kyari’s reappointment was a game-changer because it had a clear goal: to turn around the faltering business and make it apparent that the company’s vacuous governance narratives of the past are history. Thus far, it appears that Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari is unquestionably a game-changer.

I recalled that this driven and innovative leader implemented what he termed TAPE (Transparency, Accountability, and Performance Excellence), a blueprint to guarantee the NNPC’s ongoing success both domestically and internationally as soon as he took office as the 19th GMD of the then-NNPC. After only a few years in office, Kyari has significantly increased the country’s crude oil reserves to meet the 40,000-billion-barrel goal with determination and dedication.

The NNPC GCEO has pushed up exploration work in some basins and the drilling of certain oil wells. The drilling of Kolmano River II and III wells and seismic data collection in the Bida and Sokoto Basins are a few examples.

With the national crude oil reserves on the high side, the nation’s oil production was pursued with one sole aim, which was to boost its production to a target of three million barrels daily through peaceful negotiations. Similarly, production shortages revolving around oil blocks were dealt with, while sabotage that was decreasing the country’s oil production was accurately managed. Concerning the country’s oil production, Kyari led NNPC Limited to a future investment worth N10bn for the development of the Bonga South-East Field after reaching a peaceful conclusion and agreement on a deep offshore block, OML 118.

Kyari has led NNPC Limited to secure several alternative funding facilities for the NPDC and some of the joint venture projects to facilitate the further development of assets. These 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.

To reduce the burden of petrol importation, Kyari made sure the NNPC Limited keyed into the decade of gas initiatives led by Timipre Sylva, the former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, to launch the autogas initiative. Kyari’s foresight led him to invest heavily in the gas sector in a bid to effectively change the nation’s trajectory to a gas-driven economy.

This was done with the signing of the NLNG Train 7 project, a future-promising project, with the hope of delivering over $20bn in revenue to the government and creating 50,000 direct and indirect jobs. With the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Nigeria is now on the verge of being one of the world’s largest gas-exporting countries, all over Africa and Europe.

It is also on record that the Kyari-led NNPC Limited saw the successful commencement of the construction of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project with a saving of $300m from the initial amount. The AKK project can make available around 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day with the expansion of the pipeline systems to double delivery capacity from 1.5BCF/D to over 3.5BCF/D.

To fully cater for the demands of gas domestically, Kyari also commissioned the Oredo Integrated Gas Handling Facility (IGHF) and the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Storage and Dispensing Unit, with the ability to deliver over 200 million standard cubic feet of dry gas per day and 330 metric tonnes of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (cooking gas), which is equivalent to 16 units of 20-tonne LPG trucks per day, into the domestic market.

He saw to the Final Investment Decision (FID) of the Brass Fertiliser and Petrochemical Company for the $3.6bn Brass Methanol Plant in Odioma, Bayelsa State. He also spearheaded another investment with the signing of a $260m financing agreement for the Assa-North Ohaji South (ANOH) Gas Project with Seplat, promising about 300 million standard cubic feet of gas per day and 1,200 megawatts of electricity to the domestic market. The NNPC boss also facilitated the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) grant, which will assist in the upgrade of the 1350MW Abuja Independent Power Project to World Bank Standard for bankability.

Due to Nigeria’s heavy reliance on the importation of petroleum products, Kyari launched “Operation White,” which has guaranteed a steady supply of fuel. Appropriate measures were therefore required to manage the importation, supply, and distribution of petroleum products to Nigerians without difficulty, wherever they may be within the country. This accounts for the quickest identification of the underlying cause of the fuel shortage that the nation experienced in the first few months of this year. The presence of methanol-rich shipments was promptly identified. The petrol cargoes containing methanol were taken off the market right away, which left a void that eventually caused a shortage of petrol.

Under Kyari’s direction, the NNPC Limited imported massive amounts of fuel to fill the supply gap caused by the shortage, and the shortage quickly vanished, and normalcy was restored.

Another important area in which Kyari has excelled is the rehabilitation of refineries. The company has invested billions to bring long-neglected and decaying refineries back to life. Rehabilitating the Port Harcourt, Kaduna, and Warri refineries is a priority. He took this action to lower the nation’s import costs of petroleum goods and provide more jobs for impoverished youth.

The NNPC Limited has also invested in the Dangote Refinery, which is set to produce 650, 000 barrels of crude petroleum daily, making it the largest such refinery in the world. As such, it will meet the country’s demand for 57 million litres of petrol per day, 27 million litres of diesel daily, 11 million litres of kerosene daily, and nine million litres of aviation jet per day.

I am aware that the NNPC Limited has scheduled to supply four crude oil cargoes (four million barrels) under its February programme to the $20 billion Dangote refinery.

The four cargoes are expected to increase the total supply to about one billion barrels of crude, as six million barrels have already been delivered to the plant.

Saying that this investment is appropriate and in line with NNPC Limited’s new course and structure as a public limited liability corporation is instructive. Additionally, this will increase local refineries’ supply of petroleum products and strengthen the nation’s refining capability. This is one of the six refineries in which NNPC Limited plans to invest as part of its ambition to increase domestic refining capacity, bolster the supply of petroleum products from nearby refineries, and turn a profit by exporting petroleum products to strengthen the country’s economy.

In addition, Mele Kyari gave the nation access to an oil resource that would meet its needs until things returned to normal. The Petroleum Industry Act was passed under his administration, bringing this important piece of legislation to the nation for the first time in nearly 20 years. The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. was incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and became a fully commercial company upon the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act.

Kyari thinks that, despite being a difficult decision, eliminating subsidies will benefit the government financially and the economy more broadly by encouraging investment in the oil and gas industry, as the World Bank has advocated. It makes sense that on May 29, 2023, President Bola Tinubu sided with him by eliminating subsidies.

Nigerians are no longer unaware that Kyari released NNPC Limited’s audited financial results, marking the company’s first profit in its 46-year existence in the field of financial transparency. NNPC Limited is the only national oil company to publish its financial and operations reports monthly worldwide. This was made possible by the management’s subsequent continuation of the company’s Monthly Financial and Operations Reports (MFOR) publication by his TAPE vision.

In terms of transparency, Kyari led the effort to include NNPC Limited as an EITI-supporting company under the Global Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative. This adds NNPC Limited to the group of over 65 extractive companies—state-owned businesses—that have committed to upholding the accountability and transparency standards established by EITI.

21 roads were built and renovated during the Kyari administration thanks to the FG’s Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme. Aside from hiring more than a thousand graduate trainees, the GCEO has also worked its magic in the areas of job provision and involving pertinent stakeholders. Native Nigerians were also working for NNPC Limited as employees.

Still under the able leadership of Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, the NNPC Limited commenced the construction of a 50-megawatt gas turbine power plant, the Maiduguri Emergency Power Project (MEPP), expected to generate electricity for the capital city and its environs following the sabotage of the existing facilities by insurgents.

Since he helped arrange the transfer of N21 billion from the oil and gas industry to aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic during its outbreak, Kyari’s accomplishments have been felt in many spheres of society. 26% of the budget was used, under Kyari’s direction, to provide in-patient support equipment and logistics, including isolation centres, ventilators, ambulances, and other items.

Other notable achievements of the exceptional Kyari include the implementation of various International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) 9, 15, and 16 across the NNPC Limited Group to ensure regulatory compliance, as well as the implementation of the Centralised Invoice Processing System, the integration of systems, applications, and products to Remitta, SAP Funds management, and the issue of conditions for financial autonomy of the NNPC Limited SBU.

The NNPC Limited Delivery Team was established by the Kyari administration to establish the NNPC Limited Code of Conduct and Tip Portal and guarantee efficient performance tracking of the top five priorities throughout the company. For Nigeria to maintain its competitiveness in the international market, Buhari also introduced the Nigerian Upstream Cost Optimisation Programme (NUCOP), which aims to reduce the nation’s crude oil production costs.

These are some of the achievements of Kyari for the period he has steered the ship of NNPC Limited. Indeed, Kyari is the best man for the job. To his credit, he has received awards for the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd., the Leadership Newspapers Group Chief Executive Officer of the Year award for 2021, Sun Man of the Year, and CEO of the Year at the African Energy Awards.

A winner of the Prestigious African Leadership Magazine’s 2020 Special African Business Leadership Award and a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Engineering.

Kyari is surely not the first GCEO of the NNPC Limited, but he has certainly proven himself to be the best, using his vast wealth of experience to revolutionise the oil and gas sector and showing an exemplary, unique, and rare leadership style. These qualities fully explain all the efforts, sacrifices, and transparency the GCEO is making to transform the oil and gas sector to a standard that can stand the challenges of this present time.

When President Tinubu reappointed Kyari as the group CEO of NNPCL in November, he demonstrated his faith in the man. The selection indicated that Kyari was in line with President Tinubu’s vision of an oil firm focused on making profits. In a statement announcing the appointment, the President expressed his expectation of “maximum compliance” with the Renewed Hope Agenda’s performance-driven and results-oriented mission.

Kyari imparts two important leadership lessons, one of which is the way humility enhances job performance and modifies workplace culture. A leader has a greater chance of succeeding in the organisation’s goals when he sets a good example, is open to learning new things despite his experience, and recognises and appreciates the talents of others.

Kyari is a team player who puts a lot of effort into helping the group achieve its objectives and thinks that every member of the team has potential. That’s how humility is defined.

Lesson two, which is just as important, is about how accountability and openness may boost a company’s profitability and a leader’s integrity. If Kyari is naturally shrewd, then his ability to turn the NNPCL into a profit-making machine through workplace culture is something to be commended.

Before taking on the role of General Managing Director in 2019, Kyari managed several profitable and significant divisions at the NNPC; yet, despite numerous investigations into the corporation, he was deemed satisfactory in all these roles. His financial self-control is commendable given that, in contrast to many in his role, he has not been associated with any scandals since joining the company in 2019.

All these recent achievements and breakthroughs have stemmed from the leadership of a resilient man who is leaving no stone unturned in transforming Nigeria’s oil and gas sector via transparency and accountability-driven policies.

For me, Kyari has been a peaceful, pleasant oasis amid a barren desert, especially in a place where public office is typically associated with riches and extravagance. He is rewriting the myth that all senior government employees are resource thieves and parasites. He has given me, and many others hope that there are still noble, unselfish Nigerians who can be trusted with the commonwealth.

 

Adewole Kehinde is the publisher of Swift Reporters and can be reached at 08166240846. E-mail: kennyadewole@gmail.com