OrderPaperToday – Earlier in the year, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the appointment of Mele Kyari as the new and 19th Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The NNPC has over the years attracted the unattractive tag of an opaque and allegedly unaccountable organization. It would take a great deal of effort to improve its public image and get Nigerians believing in their state owned oil Corporation.
How would Kyari fare? Many wondered.
Four months down the line, he seems to have breathed a fresh air of transparency into the NNPC.
But should anyone really be surprised?
Before securing the top job at NNPC, Kyari occupied many sensitive positions in the corporation without his reputation being tainted with corruption or mismanagement.
He joined the NNPC in 1991 as a processing geophysicist with Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL). He was deployed to National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) in 1998 and worked as an exploration geophysicist before becoming the Abuja Operations Manager of NAPIMS in 2004.
In 2006, he got promoted to the role of Supervisor PSC, Crude Oil Marketing Department (COMD) of the NNPC, where he climbed up the ladder to the position of Head, and subsequerntly Manager of Production Contracts Management of the COMD between 2007 and 2014.
Then, Kyari was appointed General Manager Oil Stock Management, COMD where he served till 2015 before his appointment as Group General Manager, COMD and later Nigeria’s National Representative at the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Over the years, Kyari introduced many transparency initiatives to his credit. He played a crucial role in the creation of the NNPC’s commodity trading initiative which improved transparency and accountability in NNPC operations. Through the initiative, information became available on who is buying Nigeria’s crude, at what prices, and how much has been made from the sales.
Furthermore, he led the team that proposed and managed the Direct Sales and Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangement of petroleum products. Also, Kyari is credited with resolving disputes with International Oil Companies (IOCs) and was a member of the team that carried out a review of the 1993 PSC process. He was additionally a member of the team that reconciled the alleged loss of $48 billion and established the actual status of transactions involving NNPC in 2014.
Kyari has also served as the focal person for the Open Government Initiative which helps to track the buyers and sellers of our crude oil.
On his assumption of office as GMD in July, Kyari reiterated his commitment to transparency and quickly barred his family members from accepting gifts on his behalf. In addition, he promised to continue the automation of the petroleum products sale process so that marketers can buy products online. The new GMD declared that he was conscious of the fact that he would give account of all his actions to God.
As part of his transparency moves, he announced a collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).
“We are going to work with the EFCC to remove every element of discretion from our processes, because discretion is one of the greatest enablers of corruption.
“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.
“We will do this job with integrity, we will never put personal interest above that of the nation or the corporation,” he declared.
Kyari also put a “Transparency, Accountability, and Performance Excellence (TAPE)” agenda in place at NNPC and established a working relationship with NEITI, the body set up by law to ensure transparency in Nigeria’s extractive sector.
Following his appointment in July, NEITI described Kyari as “a well-known transparency champion and one who enthusiastically shares the principles which underline the work of NEITI and the global EITI on good governance of the oil and gas industry”.
Subsequently, the transparency body quickly welcomed Kyari on board for the State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) transparency initiative which seeks to ensure that Nigerians benefit more from the operations of the NNPC and also make the corporation more commercially-driven and globally-competitive.
But perhaps the biggest highlight of the Kyari-NEITI relationship on transparency occurred last week with the launch of the NNPC-NEITI Joint Committee on Mainstreaming and Remedial Issues. The committee’s mandate is to organise stakeholders to reconcile issues relating to outstanding payments and also collate information required for NEITI reports.
In a follow up to that meeting, Kyari met with Mark Robinson, head of the Global Secretariat of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) on Monday, 25th November where the NNPC GMD added a show of humility and service to his established trait of integrity and transparency.
For Robinson, who was present in a meeting with civil society organisations and journalists the following day, Kyari is not only a professional focused on turning around the fortunes and image of NNPC, but also has an amiable personality.
To boost this point, the EITI boss narrated how Kyari played the role of a “tea boy” when he paid him a visit in his office where he personally served him tea when he could easily have asked his staff to do it.
But just like Kyari, what Robinson found more exciting was the imminent launch of RemTrack, a mobile application designed by OrderPaper in collaboration with NEITI, to track remediation of issues contained in annual audit reports of NEITI.
With Kyari, NEITI and RemTrack, Nigeria may have found a perfect working combination that will promote transparency in the oil and gas sector and finally deliver the maximum benefits of her commonwealth to ordinary Nigerians.