BY EMEKA EJERE

The composition of the Board and Management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited recently approved by President Mohammadu Buhari, may have left those expecting equity and fair play from the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 disappointed.

Buhari, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum Resources had in consonance with Section 53(1) of the Act directed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited be incorporated.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Sunday (September 19), the President appointed the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari (North East), as the Chief Executive Officer while Senator Ifeanyi Ararume will serve as the Chairman of the Board, with Umar I. Ajiya as the Chief Financial Officer.

Other board members are; Dr Tajudeen Umar (North East), Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North Central), Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North West), Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South South), and Chief Pius Akinyelure (South West).

“This is in consonance with Section 53(1) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, which requires the Minister of Petroleum Resources to cause for the incorporation of the NNPC Limited within six months of commencement of the Act in consultation with the Minister of Finance on the nominal shares of the Company,” the statement explained.

Observers believe that the development is not any different from the status quo as analysis of top management of the NNPC and its subsidiaries shows an uneven geographical spread of senior appointments.

Mr. Kyari, while announcing the reshuffling of the senior leadership of the NNPC in July 2020, said the appointments and redeployment of some top officers were in line with the corporation’s vision of Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE).

However, a scrutiny of the top cadre staff at the NNPC by reputable agencies monitored by Business Hallmark reveals a geographical imbalance within the ranks of the corporation.

Hence the North-East, North-West and North-Central occupy 60 per cent of all the appointments. Women, on the other hand, constitute only 25 per cent of NNPC’s top management.

Out of 40 senior management positions within the NNPC ranging from chief operating officers and managing directors of its subsidiaries to general managers’ roles in the corporation, 24 are occupied by Nigerians from the North while 16 are headed by those from the South.

On the website of the NNPC, the internal executive board of the NNPC consists of the GMD of the corporation Kyari who hails from the North-East, alongside eight other board members.

The total representation comprises two from North-East, two from North-West, one from North-Central, one from South-South and one from the South-West.
The list is as follows: Chief Operating Officer (COO) in charge of refineries Mustapha Yinusa Yakubu (North-Central); Chief Financial Officer in charge of Accounts and Finance Umar Isa Ajiya (North-West); COO, Gas and Power Yusuf Usman (North East); while COO overseeing ventures and investments is Adeyemi Adetunji (South-West).

Others are COO in charge of Upstream Tombomieye Adokiye from South-South; COO, Corporate Services Mohammed Abdulkabir Ahmed (North West), and corporation’s legal adviser Hadiza Coomassie from North-West. The position of the COO, Downstream, which was vacated by Ndupu Lawrencia from South-East, who retired early in the year, is yet to be filled.

The South-East has no representation in the internal board of the NNPC, which is saddled with running the day-to-day activities of the corporation. Yet, the region has two oil-producing states -Imo and Abia.

The NNPC’s investment management unit, made up of its subsidiaries and associated companies, has been its most profitable, reporting revenue of N5.04 trillion and a profit of N1.01 trillion in 2018, but its four decrepit refineries posted N154 billion loss within the year.

They recorded more losses in 2019.
Of 21 subsidiaries and associated companies of the NNPC that were assessed, 16 of the chief executive officers (CEOs) managing the companies are from the North, accounting for 76.1 per cent. On the other hand, only five are from the South, indicating 23.9 per cent.

According to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITII the most profitable subsidiary of the NNPC is Integrated Data Sciences Limited (IDSL) headed by Ayebateke Bariwei (South-South), registering a N23 billion increase in profits in 2019.

Other top earners for the NNPC in 2019 were: Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) headed by Sambo Mansur (North-East); National Petroleum Investment Management Service (NAPIMS) which is headed by Bala Wunti(North-East); Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) headed by Musa Lawan(North), and Nigerian Gas Marketing Company (NGMC) headed by Usman Farouk(North).

Last month, the corporation announced the promotion and redeployment of some staff to fill vacant positions, as well as the disengagement of a chief operating officer.

Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Kennie Obateru, announced in a statement issued in Abuja that Billy Okoye had been appointed the new Group Executive Director, Ventures and Business Development, while Aisha Ahmadu-Katagum was promoted to the position of Group Executive Director, Corporate Services.

“Until their new appointments, Mr. Okoye and Mrs. Ahmadu-Katagum were Group General Managers, Crude Oil Marketing Division and Supply Chain Management Division in the corporation, respectively,” the statement read in part.

It added that Adeyemi Adetunji, formerly Chief Operating Officer, Business and Ventures Development, is now the Group Executive Director, Downstream; while Mohammed Ahmed, formerly Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services, had now assumed the position of Group Executive Director, Gas and Power.

NNPC stated that other Chief Operating Officer positions in the corporation had now been re-designated as Group Executive Directors, in alignment with the rules of Company and Allied Matters Act. This, it said, was preparatory to the new status of the corporation as a limited liability company, post-Petroleum Industry Bill.

“The repositioning also saw the disengagement of Yusuf Usman, formerly Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power,” the oil firm said.

It added, “The new appointments include that of Mr Garba-Deen Muhammad, who will take over from Dr. Kennie Obateru, as the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the corporation.”

Mr. Kyari said the new appointments would enable the corporation live up to the expectations of Nigerians, adding that the development would also enable the corporation achieve its vision of becoming a world-class energy company of choice.

PANDEF Revolts

Alleged lopsided appointment appointments into top management positions at the NNPC and its subsidiaries and departments in favour of the northern part of the country had last year seen a strong wave of upheaval and condemnation.

This was widely described as another demonstration of President Mohammadu Buhari’s flagrant disregard for the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which stipulates that no tribe or ethnic region should be given undue preference over another, thereby fueling agitations in the country, especially in the South-East.

The Niger Delta leaders under the aegis of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), had ignited the fire of disapproval in an open letter entitled “Re: Addressing the Continued Injustice Against the Niger Delta People Vis the Lopsided Appointments in the NNPC and its Subsidiaries/Departments”, addressed to President Buhari..

PANDEF, in the letter signed by its national publicity secretary, Ken Robinson, rejected the alleged deliberate and calculated sidelining of Niger Delta indigenes in appointments and redeployments in the NNPC and its subsidiaries.

The group said the region’s marginalisation at the national oil corporation became even more pronounced in the March 2020 promotions and reorganization which, it said, further isolated the Niger Delta from its mainstream management structure.
PANDEF stated, “Today, under Mr President’s watch, the paradoxical and dismal reality is that in the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), through which the federal government regulates and participates in the country’s petroleum industry that operates in our backyards, virtually all top management positions of the corporation and its subsidiaries, departments, and ventures are held by persons from the northern zones of the country that do not produce an ounce of oil, to the exclusion of indigenes of oil producing communities of Niger Delta region.”

PANDEF listed 20 management positions held by northerners in NNPC to include Group Managing Director (GMD), Mele Kyari; Chief Finance Officer, Finance and Accounts, Umar Ajiya; Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, Yusuf Usman; Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services, Farouk Garba Sa’id; Chief Operating Officer, Refining and Petrochemicals, Mustapha Yakubu; Corporate Secretary/Legal Adviser to the Corporation, Hadiza Coomassie; GGM, International Energy Relations, IER, Omar Ibrahim; GGM, Renewable Energy, Kallamu Abdullahi; GGM, Governance Risk and Compliance, Ibrahim Birma; and GGM, NAPIMS, Bala Wunti.

Others are MD, NNPC Shipping, Inuwa Waya; MD, Pipelines and Product Marketing, PPMC, Musa Lawan; MD, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, Mansur Sambo; MD, Duke Oil/NNPC Trading Company, Lawal Sade; MD, Port Harcourt Refining Company, Malami Shehu; MD, Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company, Muhammed Abah; MD, Nigeria Gas Marketing Company, Abdulkadir Ahmed; MD, Nigeria Gas and Power Investment Company Limited, Salihu Jamari; MD, NNPC Medical Services, Mohammed Zango; and Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Sarki Auwalu.
According to PANDEF, the entire Southern Nigeria was allotted only three top management positions in the NNPC.