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Though his immediate cognate experience spanned from managing crude sales and allied department before becoming the anointed one for the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, while stepping into the shoes of former GMD, Dr Maikanti Baru, started with assuring that his leadership will not only fix all four refineries, with will expand the refining capacities to the extent Nigeria will be begin export of refined products by 2023.
Though Baru was mute on issues relating to why the refineries failed to work under his tenure upon his early promises at his valedictory speech, he noted that was quick to announce that the Corporation’s financial books were clean and open to scrutiny.
Though experts have continued to wonder why the anti-graft agency boss, Ibrahim Magu appeared from nowhere during the handover session at the NNPC tower which had not happened during any official handover in any of the government’s agencies or enterprises, Baru mustered the courage to still say that there was nothing to worry about should the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) decide to review the activities of the corporation under his watch.
Observers say such appearance may be interpreted into several versions including either to begin probe or possible cover-ups.
EFCC is yet to explain the brain behind Magu’s presence at the NNPC towers and the meaning of his taking pictures with both outgoing and incoming GMDs when it is clear that such closeness may create certain levels of affection that may mar chances of probe after all.
This is coming from the background that what forced the House of Representatives to reject fresh demand of $1.8bn by Baru to fix refineries at the eighth National Assembly was his inability to explain why the initial $2bn was not able to do a commensurate job on the same refineries under his watch..
Recall that after the lawmakers threw out his new request for fund for turnaround maintenance, Baru resorted to what he described as contractor-financer to raise fund for the repair of the national assets but at last, it was discovered that no investor was actually ready for such arrangement thus leading to the continued running at losses of all four national refineries even as he exits.
While Nigerians wait for what Kyari will do differently to deliver his promise on the refineries, observers had been finding it difficult to solve the puzzle between what former Vice President Atiku Abubakar tweeted and what current Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also tweeted on the same state of refineries.
Whereas during his presidential campaign, Atiku averred @Atiku that “As President, I will sell the refineries,” Osinbajo at some point tweeted saying @ProfOsinbajo that “Our refineries don’t work because they are owned by the government”.
Baru in his three years at the NNPC Towers, started with a well publicized 12-point agenda cutting across security; new business models; joint venture cash calls exit; production and reserve growth; Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC) growth; gas development; refinery upgrade and expansion; renewable energy and frontier exploration campaign; oil and gas infrastructure optimization; ventures and shared services; professionalism as well as accountability and staff welfare.
Now Baru is out, weighing his performance will be according to anybody’s line of argument bordering on whether the cup is half full or half empty.
However, as Nigerians begins to track Kyari’s performance and his major promise of fixing refineries, let us recall his key remarks immediately he took over from Baru. He made it clear that “I’m not sure I’m the best. I don’t believe that, because there are better people here. I only have a first degree. And I know that in this corporation you have at least 40 people with PhD. But that tells you that leadership comes in two ways — you earn it and there is always a divine part of it.”
He was silent on which angle that brought him in after all.
On what can defend the appearance of Magu at the valedictory session, Kyari averred that “We are going to work with the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) to make sure that we take out corruption in our system. Gone are the days where we see NNPC as a very opaque institution”.
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