NNPC Gets New Chief, Board
Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, has appointed a new board at state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) including a new group general managing director (GMD).
Ibe Kachikwu – who last week led an NNPC team to the China Investors’ Roadshow and signed memos of understanding for potential deals worth an estimated $80bn with Chinese firms to develop Nigeria's gas, power and oil sectors – has been replaced by Maikanti Kacalla Baru as NNPC's GMD. Kachikwu remains minister of state for petroleum and becomes chairman of the new NNPC board.
Some, however, fear that this represents a demotion for him, and one that risks the unravelling of some of those potential deals inked with China.
Many Nigerians too are suspicious that many in top positions at NNPC, including the new board, are northerners. Baru himself comes from the northeast although he grew up in central Nigeria, whereas Kachikwu – a former executive vice chairman and general counsel of ExxonMobil in Africa – is from southern Nigeria.
Another factor is that Abba Kyari, Buhari’s Chief of Staff since August 27 2015, now has a seat on the board – something that might potentially undermine the authority of both Baru and Kachikwu. Baru though is highly experienced and his promotion is unlikely to be linked to favouring northerners.
He was NNPC’s exploration and production chief, prior to his appointment as GMD. He also oversaw several gas projects in the late 1990s, worked at one stage for Nigeria LNG, and was NNPC’s chief technical negotiator on the West African Gas Pipeline project from mid-1999 to early 2004. He has a PhD in mechanical engineering. He has reportedly also been the chairman of NNPC's anti–corruption committee since September 2004, a role that involves fighting against corrupt practices, a cause close to Buhari’s heart.
As well as Kachikwu, Baru and Kyari, the permanent secretary of the federal finance ministry, Mahmoud Isa Dutse, will also have a seat on the new NNPC board.
Other members are Thomas M A John, Pius O. Akinyelure, Tajuddeen Umar, Mallam Mohammed Lawal, and Mallam Yusuf Lawal.
Omono Okonkwo | www.naturalgasafrica.com