North occupies 60% of NNPC’s top management positions

ANALYSIS  of top management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries shows an uneven geographical spread of senior appointments and reflects a less gender-friendly national corporation.

Group Managing Director (GMD) of the NNPC Mele Kyari, while announcing the reshuffling of the senior leadership of the NNPC in July 2020, said the appointments and redeployment of some top officers were in line with the corporation’s vision of Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE).

However, a scrutiny of the top cadre staff at the NNPC by The ICIR reveals a geographical imbalance within the ranks of the corporation.

Hence the North-East, North-West and North-Central occupy 60 per cent of all the appointments. Women, on the other hand, constitute only 25 per cent of NNPC’s top management.

Out of 40 senior management positions within the NNPC ranging from chief operating officers and managing directors of its subsidiaries to general managers’ roles in the corporation, 24 are occupied by Nigerians from the North while 16 are headed by those from the South.

On the website of the NNPC, the internal executive board of the NNPC consists of the GMD of the corporation Kyari who hails from the North-East, alongside eight other board members.

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The total representation comprises two from North-East, two from North-West, one from North-Central, one from South-South and one from the South-West.

The list is as follows: Chief Operating Officer (COO) in charge of refineries Mustapha Yinusa Yakubu (North-Central); Chief Financial Officer in charge of Accounts and Finance Umar Isa Ajiya (North-West); COO, Gas and Power Yusuf Usman (North East); while COO overseeing ventures and investments is Adeyemi Adetunji (South-West).

Others are  COO in charge of Upstream Tombomieye Adokiye from South-South;  COO, Corporate Services Mohammed Abdulkabir Ahmed (North West), and corporation’s legal adviser Hadiza Coomassie from North-West.

The position of the COO,  Downstream, which was vacated by Ndupu Lawrencia from South-East, who retired early in the year, is yet to be filled.

The South-East has no representation in the internal board of the NNPC, which is saddled with running the day-to-day activities of the corporation. Yet, the region has two oil-producing states -Imo and Abia.

The NNPC’s investment management unit, made up of its subsidiaries and associated companies, has been its most profitable, reporting revenue of N5.04 trillion and a profit of N1.01 trillion in 2018, but its four decrepit refineries posted  N154 billion loss  within the year.  They recorded  more losses in 2019.

Of 21 subsidiaries and associated companies of the NNPC that were assessed by The ICIR, 16 of the chief executive officers (CEOs) managing the companies are from the North, accounting for 76.1 per cent. On the other hand, only five are from the South, indicating 23.9 per cent.

According to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the most profitable subsidiary of the NNPC  is Integrated Data Sciences Limited (IDSL) headed by Ayebateke Bariwei (South-South), registering a N23 billion increase in profits in 2019.

Other top earners for the NNPC in 2019 were: Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) headed by Sambo Mansur (North-East); National Petroleum Investment Management Service (NAPIMS) which is headed by Bala Wunti(North-East); Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) whose CEO is Musa Lawan(North), and Nigerian Gas Marketing Company (NGMC) headed by Usman Farouk(North).

Breach of public trust

Oil accounts for over 70-85 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange revenues, official records say.

The official Twitter account of the NNPC unveils the list of current board members of the NNPC pegged at nine, with two members from the North-East, two from North-Central, two from the North-West, two from the South-South, one from the South West and one from the South-East.

The list of the board members is as follows: Timipre Sylva (South-South); Thomas John (South-South); Mele Kyari (North East); Lami Onayi Ahmed  (North Central); Tajudden Umar (North East); Mahmoud Isa-Dutse (North Central); Mohammed Lawal (North-West); Yusuf Lawal (North-West), and Pius Akinyelure (South-West).

Others are Stephen Dike (South-East) and Hadiza Coomassie (North-West) who also doubles as the legal adviser of the corporation.

With six members from the North against four from the South, the appointments do not reflect the federal character which strives to achieve equitable distribution of appointments to the geopolitical zones in the country.


InfographicsThe Federal Character Commission Act seeks to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with the principles of the proportional sharing of all bureaucratic, economic, media and political posts at all levels of government.

Since the formation of the NNPC in 1977, different administrations have sought to wield control, with two out of the past four presidents, including incumbent President Buhari, retaining the petroleum minister portfolio for themselves.

Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that the appointments into agencies of government should reflect the federal character without predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.

However, this provision is flagrantly disregarded at the corporation despite its pledge to promote accountability and transparency.

When The ICIR reached out to the NNPC to get the geo-political zones of senior management staff of the corporation, the request was declined.

Calls placed to Public Affairs Director Kennie Obateru were unanswered, but a staff member in his office responded to the messages sent to him, stating that the request to get the states of origin of the executive staff at the NNPC would not be granted because it could raise ethnic tensions across the country.

Women play a less prominent role

Of the 40 executive management positions in Africa’s largest petroleum company, only 10 were occupied by women, signifying 25 per cent of total appointments. The positions comprise three managing directors of subsidiaries, five group general managers (GGM), one chief operating officer and the legal adviser of the corporation.

At the top of the managerial roles played by women in the corporation is  Secretary and Legal Adviser of the corporation Hadiza Coomassie from North-West.

Others include Group General Manager (GGM) for Finance, Channels and Quantity Eshiett Rose (South-South); GGM for Human Resources Division Ladipo Oyeyemi (South-West);   GGM for Research, Technology and Innovation Ugona Betty (South-East); GGM for Corporate Planning & Strategy (South-South) Oritsemeyiwa Eyesan;  and  GGM, LNG investments Services Nike Kolawole (South-West).

According to a Wall Street Journal article, women have become executives in supportive roles in the oil and gas sector, but their share of jobs with profit-and-loss responsibility, which is considered as stepping stones to the CEO’s roles, are flat.  Profit and loss positions are those  with direct influence on how company resources are allocated, according to a financial blog

Elizabeth Aliyuda, who hails from Taraba State (North-East), boasts of 32 years of experience in the downstream oil sector and is the current managing director of NNPC Retail Limited, a subsidiary of the NNPC.

Other female CEOs in the corporation are MD Nigeria Pipeline and Storage Company (NPSC) Oyetunde Nneka (South-East); and MD, NNPC Shipping Christiana Onabu (South-East).

A series of studies by McKinsey titled ‘Women Matter’ revealed that companies with a higher proportion of female executives showed stronger financial performance than those with no women in top positions.

Men were three times as likely as women to have been encouraged to consider a profit and loss role and twice likely to have been promoted or selected for leadership training in  two years, according to a 2019 study by Working Mother Research Institute.

Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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