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Nigeria: Baru becomes NNPC GMD, to carry on Oil Sector Reforms

Dr Maikanti Baru

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), yesterday said reforms in the nation’s oil sector would continue with the appointment of Dr Maikanti Kacalla Baru, as its new Group Managing Director by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Baru whose appointment was announced yesterday, takes over from Dr Ibe Kachikwu, who has been combining the roles of GMD, NNPC and Minister of State, Petroleum.

Also yesterday, President Buhari approved the composition of the NNPC board as provided for in Section 1(2) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Act of 1997, as amended.

Spokesman of the NNPC, Garbadeen Mohammed, told media reporters in a telephone interview that what had taken place was a continuation of ongoing reforms in the sector and not changes, pointing out that the newly appointed GMD is “not an outsider,” and would continue with the reforms.

“It is just continuation with new appointments. No one was removed so there will be no negative implications. The people who were there are still there and the new GMD is not an outsider so there is no cause for panic or agitation,” he explained, while responding to a question on the implication of the new appointments for the corporation.

The new board has Kachikwu, who now retains the portfolio of minister of state for petroleum, as chairman. Also on the board is the NNPC GMD, Baru; the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mallam Abba Kyari, Dr Thomas John, Dr Pius Akinyelure, Dr Tajuddeen Umar, Mallam Mohammed Lawal and Mallam Yusuf Lawal.

President Buhari, in a statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, urged the new board to ensure the successful delivery of the mandate of the NNPC, “and serve the nation by upholding the public trust placed on them in managing this critical national asset.”

Reacting to the appointment of the new NNPC GMD, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsajani, said it was clear that both positions needed to be separated as it was difficult for them to be combined for one person.

He said separating the responsibilities would move the sector forward as it would allow the minister to concentrate on state affairs and overseeing the sector in general, while the GMD can concentrate on making the NNPC into a profitable state oil firm.

Rafsajani told media that, “it was clear that both positions were difficult for the minister of state alone to combine. Separating the positions will definitely move the sector forward.”

He further expressed optimism that the new NNPC GMD will perform well in his new responsibility, going by his antecedents in the oil and gas industry.

“Baru has the requisite capacity and experience to lead the NNPC. He has been in the sector for long and we hope he can provide the needed leadership to restructure the NNPC into a profitable company,” Rafsanjani added.

Also reacting to the development, country director of international transparency advocacy group, Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Nigeria, Faith Nwadishi, commended the federal government for constituting a board for the NNPC but observed that the board lacks balance as there is no female representation on the board.

She also faulted the government on the appointment of the minister of state for petroleum as the chairman of the board of NNPC, arguing that for the corporation to run as a profit organization, state control has to be minimized.

“The law which makes the minister of petroleum chairman of the NNPC board has to be reviewed. It doesn’t change anything, it is still business as usual,” Nwadishi, who is a also a member of the global board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) said.

She noted that the NNPC has been everything in the oil and gas value chain, a regulator, a seller and buyer of petroleum products because of the law which makes the minister of petroleum the chairman of the NNPC board.

“Until we separate the duty of the board of NNPC from that of the state and let the NNPC compete as a player in the market with other private firms, that’s when we can begin to get it right,” Nwadishi added.

Dr Baru comes to the job with loads of experience in the oil and gas sector.

A first class graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, he also holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical engineering.

He has worked in various capacities in the Upstream and Downstream sectors of the oil industry as Group General Manager of Greenfield Refinery Projects; Managing Director of Hyson; Executive Director of Nigerian Gas Company (NGC); General Manager, Gas Division of NAPIMS; Manager, Operations, Procurement Management Services and Manager, Engineering, National Engineering and Technical Company Limited (NETCO); and GED, Exploration-Production.

During his initial stint with NAPIMS which spanned from July 1993 to July 1999, Baru executed several gas projects which are utilizing billions of standard cubic feet of gas per day. He was also the NNPC’s Chief Technical Negotiator on the West African Gas Pipeline project from July 1999 to April 2004.

He has been the Chairman of NNPC Anti-corruption Committee from September 2004 till date; and has relentlessly sensitised staff on obligations and laws that govern corruption and corrupt practices. He is a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE) and a recipient of the Presidential Merit Award of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers. He is married and has children.

As reforms continued in the nation’s oil sector, yesterday, Brent crude closed at about $50 a barrel as Nigeria’s crude oil output rose last month to 1.53 million barrels per day, following repairs to some infrastructure that had been damaged by militant attacks.

Brent fell 0.5 per cent, paring earlier gains.

In June, Nigeria pumped an average of 1.53 million barrels a day, an increase of about 90,000 a day from May, according to a Bloomberg survey.

The global benchmark rose earlier as the Niger Delta Avengers said they attacked five crude-pumping facilities overnight Sunday, just as Nigerian oil workers plan to begin a strike on July 7, to protest job losses and delays in the passage of a new oil law.


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Sydney Chesterfield

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