Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has appointed a new board and team for Nigerian National Petroleum Co. (NNPC)
Most significantly, Mele Kyari who took the role of group CEO in 2019 has been reappointed.
A statement from the presidency said the team would “monetise all available oil and gas resources of today while paving the way for the total exploitation of new and cleaner energy sources of tomorrow”.
The refreshed board will come into effect as of December 1.
“Kyari’s reappointment to NNPC makes sense given the recent closeness between him and the president. They have travelled together, and Kyari has been present in several key meetings with foreign leaders,” said Clementine Wallop, senior adviser to political risk consultancy Horizon Engage.
“However, it may not be a universally popular move with energy investors who struggled in their dealings with him under Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency. On a domestic political level, however, the reappointment is savvy: Tinubu knew he needed to hand big jobs to northern officials, and it doesn’t get bigger than leadership of NNPC.”
Kyari narrowly evaded mandatory retirement in September.
Kyari, speaking in Abu Dhabi in October, said NNPC was 80% ready for an IPO or sale of equity to a strategic investor.
“It’s a massive process that requires transformation, that requires an alignment with the realities of today,” he said.
The company has not yet published its audited financial statements for 2022. However, Kyari, speaking on November 23, said the company would increase its profits by 2 trillion naira ($2.5 billion). NNPC has been paying dividends since July, he said.
In addition to Kyari, Tinubu appointed Chief Pius Akinyelure to act as non-executive board chairman. Alhaji Umar Isa Ajiya will act as CFO.
The appointment also named six non-executive directors: Ledum Mitee, Musa Tumsa, Ghali Muhammad, Prof. Mustapha Aliyu, David Ogbodo and Eunice Thomas.
Mitee was the lawyer of Ogoniland activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed in December 1995. The two men were both members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). He has continued to be an outspoken critic in the Niger Delta, including around the Ogoniland clean up operation.
Tinubu appointed two permanent secretaries, Okokon Ekanem Udo from the Finance Ministry and Amb. Gabriel Aduda from Petroleum Resources.
Among the decisions facing the board are how to tackle a number of proposed sales in the country’s upstream, such as ExxonMobil’s local unit. Furthermore, NNPC faces tough questions in the downstream, balancing modernisation projects with the start up of the Dangote Refinery.