Facts have emerged as to how President Muhammadu Buhari appointed “henchmen and boys” of Maikanti Baru, the outgoing Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, as the corporation’s top managers.
Insiders said the president acted on Mr Baru’s recommendation on his successor and other top management staff of the corporation.
A change in management at the NNPC Towers last week saw Mele Koro Kyari, a native of Borno State (not a relation to Buhari’s Chief of Staff Abba Kyari) named as the 19th GMD of the corporation, with seven others also appointed Chief Operating Officers during the major shake up.
They include: Roland Onoriode Ewubare (South-south) as COO Upstream; Mustapha Yinusa Yakubu (North-central) as COO Refining & Petrochemicals; Yusuf Usman (North-east) as COO, Gas & Power; Lawrencia Nwadiabuwa Ndupu (South-east) as COO Ventures; Umar Isa Ajiya (North-west) as Chief Financial Officer; Adeyemi Adetunji (South-west) as COO, Downstream and Farouk Garba Said (North-west) as COO, Corporate Services.
A source within the Industry who pleaded anonymity exclusively told DAILY NIGERIAN over the weekend that while Mr Kyari, the newly appointed GMD, is a close associate of Mr Baru, and that most, if not all of the seven new Chief Operating Officers were Mr Baru’s proteges, who rapidly grew under his watch and tutelage in the formative years of their careers.
The source said: “Although Baru wasn’t the one who made Kyari the GGM Crude Oil Marketing Division, he it was who gave him the free-hand to transparently execute the highly successful crude oil term oil contracts strategy, which ensured readily-available market for Nigeria’s crude oil and a steady revenue flow into the country’s coffers.
Instructively, Mr Baru also allowed Mr Kyari, NNPC’s chief oil marketer, to sustain the Direct Sale Direct Purchase, DSDP Agreement which ensured NNPC stabilised petroleum products supply nationwide, one of the high points of the Baru administration, the source noted.
Aside that, the source added, Mr Kyari has been a very key figure of the Baru kitchen cabinet, often seen representing the GMD during high-profile meetings, corporate functions and even media outings, both at home and abroad.
For the COOs, the source said, Yusuf Usman, Mustapha Yakubu, Umar Ajiya and Laura Ndupu were all ‘made’ by Mr Baru, and they have been very prominent during his three-year tenure. Even Rowland Ewubare (a protege of former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu), Farouk Said (a long time friend of Baru) and Yemi Adetunji (another close associate of Baru) will all credit their unexpected emergence as COOs partly to Mr Baru.
He added: “Yusuf Usman was just a manager before Baru was appointed GMD in July 2016. On resumption as the 18th NNPC helmsman, Baru, who had worked with Usman while serving as the Group General Manager at the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), immediately made Usman a General Manager, then a Group General Manager, then just last month, a Managing Director of Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), one of NNPC’s upstream subsidiaries. Usman never even got to NPDC before he was promoted to a COO.”
For Mr Ajiya, the outgoing GMD pulled him out of his rather unknown position of being NNPC’s Chief Strategist and made him the Managing Director of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPMC, where he did well to ensure little or no fuel queues across the country, especially in the last two years, the source explained.
According to the source, Mr Baru was instrumental to Mustapha Yakubu becoming the Managing Director of National Engineering & Technical Company, NETCO, one of NNPC’s upstream subsidiaries, last year. The retiring GMD began his career at NETCO in 1991 as Manager Procurement Management Services, PROMAS.
For Laura, she has worked with Mr Baru at the NNPC Oil Field Services, NOFS, one of the corporation’s Corporate Service Units, when the erstwhile GMD was the GGM there. “We can easily say that Baru it was who ensured she became the MD at the NOFS, two years ago,” the source added.
The source maintained that although Yemi Adetunji, Faruk Said and Roland Ewubare were not Mr Baru’s boys, they enjoyed a very good relationship with the outgoing GMD, who ensured their names appeared top in his recommendations to Mr. President.
“It is therefore not a secret that Baru is close to and enjoys a solid relationship with most, if not all of these new COOs. You may not be wrong if you say that looking at the list of the new NNPC executives, there is Maikanti Baru’s hands and blessings all over it,” the source concluded.
Mr Kyari is expected to take over the reins from Mr Baru as the 19th NNPC GMD, on July 8, 2019, a day after Mr Baru’s statutory retirement from the service on attainment of the mandatory 60 years.