The newly appointed Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kolo Kyari, last week, set some goals for the organisation. President Muhammadu Buhari had on June 20, 2019, appointed Kyari as the new helmsman of the nation’s oil behemoth. He succeeded Dr. Maikanti Baru, who retired on July 7, having attained the retirement age of 60.
Until his appointment, Kyari, a Geologist by training, was Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD) of NNPC. Speaking at the valedictory session of his predecessor in Abuja, the new NNPC boss listed key issues the corporation would address under his leadership. He pledged to revive the nation’s four ailing refineries in the next four years.
According to him, “getting the refineries back on stream will make Nigeria a net exporter of petroleum products by 2023.” He also promised that by the end of 2020, the NNPC will target to grow the nation’s hydrocarbon reserves base to 40 billion barrels. According to him, his team will work with the International Oil Companies operating in Nigeria to ensure effective crude production that will meet the new target of 40 billion barrels.
Beyond the promise to fix the refineries by 2023, the new GMD also vowed to raise the bar on transparency and accountability in the management of the organisation. Under his leadership, the corporation will partner with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to fight corruption. He assured that Nigerians would have access to all the activities of the organisation, and in a short time, individuals would order and pay for petroleum products online and get them delivered to their petrol retail stations across the country.
He reiterated the need to end fuel importation as soon as the refineries begin to work. Under his watch, the NNPC will encourage Public Private Partnership in the revamping of the refineries as well as the involvement of entrepreneurs in the building of conventional and modular refineries. He stated that NNPC would provide incentives that would increase crude oil production to three million barrels per day. Currently, Nigeria produces about 2.3 million barrels per day.
Undoubtedly, the goals set by Kyra are laudable and achievable. They are likely to address the challenges of the oil sector if well implemented. Therefore, we urge him to come up with a roadmap that will guide the implementation of these objectives.
However, it is sad that despite the huge investments in Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the refineries, none of the four refineries are functioning to optimum level. Unfortunately, the situation has made Nigeria a net importer of refined petroleum products. Therefore, reviving the ailing refineries should be prioritised by the Kyra regime in addressing the problems in the nation’s oil and gas industry. We believe that fixing the refineries would also address the contentious subsidy payments.
Another problem that Kyra must resolve is the alleged lack of transparency and accountability in the operations of the corporation. Interestingly, the new GMD acknowledged this challenge in his speech last week. We recall that some past audit reports revealed lack of transparency and accountability in the operations of the oil agency.
Also, the Nigeria Extractive industries and Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has decried the opaque nature of the corporation’s operations. The oil behemoth has been accused of non-remittance of huge revenues to the Federation Account, an act which is inconsistent with Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). It is good that the new GMD has assured that under his leadership, the organisation will be transparent and accountable. Nigerians expect him to do no less.
He should, therefore, keep his promises. We urge him to avoid the mistakes of his predecessors and improve on their achievements. He should lead by example. While wishing Kyari a successful tenure, we also urge him to carry all relevant stakeholders in the industry along.