By Sonny Atumah
It was at the amphitheatre on the first floor of the NNPC Towers last Monday, July 8, 2019. The amphitheatre charged with anticipation overflowed with personalities for Mele Kolo Kyari, MKK to take the insignia of office as the 19th Group Managing Director, GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. It indeed, happened in a colourful ceremony that for the first time since the creation of the NNPC in 1977, a head of the national oil company would be ceremoniously pulled out on retirement for a new one to formally take office. The new helmsman of the NNPC, one would prefer to address as a comrade. Not just because he was a onetime Chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN at the NNPC, but because he sees his friend as another self if one would take the phrase from Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics.
Some associates believe MKK must have started positioning himself for leadership of the national oil company from the day he joined the NNPC. Some others may say ambition; it takes ambition to achieve success wherever one finds oneself. MKK however, believes in the divineness of his meteoric ascension to power. The new Group Managing Director may fit into Warren Bennis’ assertion of a leader’s eye on the horizon. Of course, he knows what horizon means in paleontology geology. And he started by defining reality in his statement which is the first responsibility of a leader. Warren Bennis, a United States educationist and writer, “On Becoming a Leader” wrote that managers have their eyes on the bottom line; leaders have their eyes on the horizon.
But who is Mele Kolo Kyari? Born on 8th January 1965 in Maiduguri, Borno State, Mele attended Government Community Secondary School Biu in Borno State. His first love is Geology and Earth Science which he took a degree from the University of Maiduguri in 1987, with an Upper Second Class Honours. He served in the mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps, NYSC scheme with the defunct Directorate of Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructure, DFRRI between 1987 and 1988. His illustrious career started with the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency as Field Geologist in 1988. He joined the NNPC subsidiary of Integrated Data Services Limited, where he worked as a Seismic Data Processing Geophysicist in the Production Sharing Contract, PSC in 1991. He is quite experienced having traversed the NNPC with professional and service credentials. He served at the National Petroleum Investments Management Services,NAPIMS as Abuja Operations Manager. Between 2006 and 2015, he was in the Crude Oil Marketing Division COMD, where he rose through the ranks from Supervisor to Group General Manager. In May 2018, he became the Nigerian representative at OPEC.
What are his commitments to
Nigerians in the NNPC project? The new Group Managing Director of the NNPC has vowed to reverse the trend of petroleum products importation in the country by rehabilitating the existing refineries and encouraging private sector investment in the refineries sub-sector. He has not minced his words in saying he will transform Nigeria into a net exporter of petroleum products by 2023. We may not doubt MKK because the Crude Oil Marketing Division of the NNPC under his watch has recorded noticeable transformation in the management and sales of the various Nigeria’s crude oil grades via an infusion of transparency and automation of the processes. He pledged to continue the automation of the petroleum products sale process so that marketers can buy products online. Experts’ fears that the global chasm in crude oil quality supply shows no signs of narrowing, prompting refiners to lighten their slate and leading to a market glut with gasoline, naphtha and LPG. Notwithstanding the US shale oil that is hitting 12 million barrel per day a saturated light ends market could still attract demand for our crude and refined products as the new restrictions on amount of sulphur in global marine fuels would mean refiners buying more light sweet crude. With MKK outfield pedigree in petroleum economics and crude oil and gas trading that could be to our advantage.
Entrenching transparency in NNPC? MKK is the focal person for the Open Government Initiative that helps the government to track the buyer and seller of crude oil. The Open Government Initiative is a global body that believes that making government information available to the public is a requirement for an informed citizenry and accountability by government. Kyari’s commitment is that every Nigerian is a stakeholder in the corporation, which implied that everyone has a right to information on how NNPC is managed. “NNPC will not be opaque, we’ll be transparent to all so that at the end of the day everyone will be in a position to assess us and say what we have done right or wrong.” MKK pledged to do his job with integrity, and will never put personal interest above that of the nation or the corporation. He has given a time limit to accomplish the thorny Nigerian problems in petroleum industry. Let’s give MKK a chance by encouraging him to improve the NNPC.