*To appraise dialogue with militants
*Says contracting cycle cut to 6-9 months from two years
By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Friday formally handed over the task of managing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to its new Group Managing Director (GMD), Dr. Maikanti Baru, saying he successfully turned around the fortunes of the state oil company in the 11 months he held the post of the GMD.
Kachikwu said in Abuja that when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him NNPC’s GMD in 2015, he had asked him to reposition the operational direction of the corporation following its reported poor profitability index; loss of business transparency and focus; as well as the confidence of Nigerians.
He stated that he had so far changed such ugly narratives about the NNPC and thus turned it into a profit-making entity. The minister added that for the first time in a very long time, NNPC in May 2016 netted a profit margin of N270 million.
He also disclosed that despite renewed hostilities in the Niger Delta and seeming cracks in the federal government’s reported dialogue with militants in the region, the country’s daily crude oil production capacity was still at 1.9 million barrels.
He said he would appraise the government’s dialogue with the militants, and try to plug possible gaps in the process.
The government had on Monday named Baru as a replacement for Kachikwu in the NNPC. Kachikwu who however retained his job as minister, was also appointed chairman of the board of NNPC by the government.
He listed some of what he said he achieved in the 11 months he managed NNPC to include cutting its operational losses; deregulating the country’s downstream petroleum sector; initiating a creative means of meeting the corporation’s Joint Venture (JV) contributions; as well as meeting its statutory payments to the federation account, amongst others.
He also said Nigeria’s daily fuel consumption has dropped by 30 per cent following his efforts to sanitise the downstream operations of NNPC and the country.
“11 months ago when the president asked me to take over the mantle of leadership of the NNPC, there was indeed an urgency of now, morale was low, things were haywire, there were lots of issues of transparency on the table. The profit index was very poor and the belief of Nigerians in the functionality and reliability of the NNPC was quite frankly at a questionable level,” said Kachikwu.
He stated: “And the president felt the best way to start my career in the public service under him was first to go to NNPC as outsider and try and bring in certain new structures to help the place change its direction and focus.