Strategic Opinions

NNPC Ltd. Came To Equity With Clean Hands By Adewole Kehinde 

“Speak the truth. Transparency breeds legitimacy.”- John C. Maxwell

On January 24, 2024, most dailies came up with headlines such as “EITI queries NNPC’s 20% stake in Dangote refinery, crude-backed loan,” “EITI to NNPC: Disclose details of 20% stake in Dangote,” etc.

When I read through the global Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative’s (EITI) concerns over the Nigerian National Petroleum Company’s (NNPC) Limited’s (20%) share in Dangote Petroleum Refinery and their many questions on the crude-backed loans, I knew there was a communication gap.

I recall that on August 18, 2020, Nigeria’s national oil company, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), became an EITI supporting company, joining a group of over 65 extractive companies, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), commodity traders, financial institutions, and industry partners who committed to observing the EITI’s supporting company expectations.

According to the EITI Board Chair, Rt Hon. Helen Clark, who welcomed the company’s commitment to the EITI, “NNPC plays a vital role in Nigeria’s economy. Joining the EITI as a supporting company is a welcome step in the NNPC’s journey towards achieving greater transparency and to help ensure that Nigeria’s citizens benefit from their natural resource wealth.”

On January 25, 2024, as part of NNPC Limited’s commitment to bolstering a culture of accountability and trust in its operations, the NNPC Ltd. Senior Management Team, led by the Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, OFR, received a delegation from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) at its corporate headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) scored Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.) very highly in its latest global assessment.

This was disclosed by EITI’s Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Bady Baldé, during a visit by an EITI delegation to the Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPC Ltd., Mall. Mele Kyari, in Abuja on Thursday.

I am impressed that the outspoken GCEO, Mall. Mele Kyari, spoke out his mind when he expressed disappointment with NEITI for going public with its report that NNPC Ltd. failed to remit some monies into the Federation Account instead of seeking clarification on any perceived gap in its assessment.

Kyari explained that NNPC Ltd. was holding no public funds back and that what NEITI reported as non-remittance was what was due to the company as payment for taking the burden of fuel subsidy on behalf of the Federal Government.

He disclosed that NNPC Ltd. would have released its Audited Financial Statement (AFS) for 2022 since June 2023 but could not do so because it had no substantive board of directors at that time, adding that the AFS will be published on the company’s website in the next few days.

Since his appointment as the 19th GMD of the defunct NNPC, each time you listen to Mele Kolo Kyari to date, you get the inkling of a man who wants to be different. A man determined to take the path less travelled. Like walking alone and being partially deaf to the mob.

As an NNPC Ltd. insider and industry person for over 34 years, he knew there was something miserably wrong with the public image of NNPC Ltd. The public perception was horrible. A nest of corruption; a place of easy money; the epicenter of unpleasantness and sludge funds.

Previous leadership of NNPC Ltd. didn’t help matters. Either they were caught garbled in the web of corruption, or their sweltering story flourished after office. Whichever way, their stories stink! And so does that of NNPC Ltd.

The Transparency, Accountability, and Performance Excellence (TAPE) initiative of Mal Mele Kolo Kyari earned NNPC Ltd. the Swift Reporters 2020 Most Accountable and Transparent Government Agency Award.

No wonder he said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.) will continue to collaborate with the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and all relevant stakeholders in the Reconciliation Committee set up by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to investigate, review, and reconcile the financial records on alleged indebtedness to the Federation by both NNPC Ltd. and the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC.

Indeed, aside from being a signatory to several of EITI’s global ethics and standards, NNPC Ltd., on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in September this year, signed up to the United Nations Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption, thereby becoming the first state-owned oil company to join the global initiative.

Kyari is not afraid of responsibility and accountability, and the records are there to show it.

NNPC Ltd.’s book remains open to all our stakeholders as the company remains committed to delivering value to Nigerians with integrity and as espoused in its principles of Transparency, Accountability, and Performance Excellence (TAPE), the bulwark of the Mele Kyari leadership of the company.

I commend Mal. Mele Kyari and his entire management team for taking NNPC Limited to equity in clean hands.

Adewole Kehinde is the publisher of Swift Reporters and can be reached at 08166240846. Email: [email protected]