• Says top officials of NNPCL and its subsidiaries targeted for smear campaign
A group, National Council for Civil Society Organizations (NCCSO) has alerted the nation of plans by some faceless Nigerians to destabilize the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and by implication, the entire Nigerian oil and gas sector.
The group in a statement on Sunday signed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Johnny Emmanuel, said certain individual still smarting from the removal of subsidy on petrol by the Federal Government, have perfected plots to cause disruptions within the Nigerian oil and gas sector through sustained attacks on the integrity of a select cadre of officials in the hierarchy of the NNPCL and its subsidiaries.
The group noted that the aim of these faceless and unpatriotic Nigerians is to force the removal of these officials by President Bola Tinubu with the aim of influencing the appointment of malleable characters who will aid them in their nefarious plan of benefitting illegally from activities of NNPCL and its subsidiaries in the wake of the end of the lucrative subsidy regime from which they had amassed billions of naira. According to Emmanuel:
“We are aware of their plan to destabilize NNPCL and its key subsidiaries. This plan was activated a week ago with their dissemination of the fake news that NNPCL Group Chief Executive Officer, Mallam Mele Kyari had been suspended from office by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. When Nigerians saw through their plan and disregarded the lie, they switched strategy and launched a direct offensive by issuing a statement through one of their agents, a certain Timi Frank, calling on President Tinubu to sack Kyari allegedly for illegally awarding oil blocs and keeping back part of the proceeds. Like their first attempt, this strategy also fell flat as Nigerians who had been following Kyari’s impressive performance since 2019 when he was first appointed Group Managing Director of NNPC, roundly condemned Frank for his mischief.
“Ordinarily failing spectacularly in quick succession ought to have discouraged normal and sensible individuals from pursuing what is clearly an unprofitable venture; however, these individuals do not conform to that classification. In the main, being individuals who had for years connived with some officials of successive administrations, some of who have retired from service to divert billions if not trillions of Naira earmarked for the payment of subsidy on petrol, their hearts are set irrevocably on removing every obstacle on their way to forcing their way back into reckoning.
“In this wise, they have turned their rifle on Mr. Bala Wunti, Chief Upstream Investment officer, NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services (formerly known as NAPIMS). In a scurrilous attack on the character of Wunti these unpatriotic Nigerians using an online publication, thecapital.ng to executive, albeit poorly, an apparent hatchet job.
The publication in the article, accused Wunti of many offences including boasting to his friends that he would soon be given a higher appointment by President Tinubu. The writer also accused Wunti of being proud and egotistic among many other unpleasant adjectives he used to demonize the very hardworking man.
“It would have been tempting for Nigerians to take him seriously had they not been witnesses to Wunti’s superlative performance as NAPIMS boss. More importantly, they had with their own eyes read an article written in October last year by the same website commending Wunti to the heavens. In that article titled,
“The Enemy Within…Who is after NAPIMS Boss, Bala Wunti?” the writer in this piece, portrays Wunti as a committed and focused employee of NAPIMS working hard to contribute to the growth and development of the Nigerian oil and gas sector but who had become a victim of a sinister plot by some of his colleagues to push him out of office. the website said in that article which I reproduce below:
‘They launched an attack against Bala Wunti, writing to harass the latter with trumped-up allegations fed to them by their malefic cohorts…. Interestingly, however, Mele Kyari and Bala Wunti are two of a kind. They are men of open trust, whose stewardship is shorn of insolence and suspicion. Some have likened them to the healing stems to the public service’s putrid branches. The heads of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) respectively have risen above juvenile credulity in the discharge of their duties”
“The quote is rather long but I have excerpted to this extent so Nigerians can understand the unfolding scandalous scenario. So the big question is, What has changed between October 2022 and now that Wunti who was glowingly portrayed as someone akin to an angel would suddenly become crooked, boastful and egotistic?
“As participants in the oil and gas sector of this country, we can vouch for the commitment of current NNPC Management to ensure that the sector witnesses the boom and repositioning as envisioned by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021. It is common knowledge that the trio of Kyari, Engr, Adokiye Tombomieye, Executive Vice President Upstream and Wunti have been in the forefront of efforts to stem the unwholesome theft of Nigeria’s crude by these characters who want them removed to pave the way for their unfettered pillage of our national patrimony”.
The civil society leader recalled how Wunti led NAPIMS developed and activated a business continuity plan for NNPC and the industry to ensure zero disruption of oil production in the heat of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.
“As close watchers of the Oil & Gas industry, we remember how Wunti as head of then NAPIMS was mandated by his bosses to lead and launch an aggressive Upstream cost optimization regime leading to the advent of the Nigeria Upstream Cost Optimization Prpgramme, NUCOP, early 2021 to bring down the cost of production which was buffeting around the $23 -$.25 per barrel threshold”.
“Today, based on available records, our crude oil production cost is down to about $13 per barrel while production output has climbed to about 1.6million barrels per day and it is projected to increase to 1.8mpd by August this year”.
“These oil criminals are desperate and will not stop with Kyari and Wunti. Their plan is to engineer the removal of anyone likely to pose an obstacle to their plan to sponsor their collaborators into key positions in these organizations to facilitate their access to unearned money. We are by this statement alerting the federal Government and Nigerians in general to be aware of their sinister plans and do everything to thwart them’, Emmanuel stated.
He urged President Tinubu not be distracted by these desperate attempts by a greedy cabal of oil barons who cloak their sinister scheme as a public-spirited service.
“Is not strange that the attacks on leading officials of NNPCL and its subsidiaries are coming at a time their organizations have moved away from the dark past where there activities were shrouded in secrecy and cronyism? Today the NNPC and its subsidiaries are better managed entities and this is due largely to the sound administrative acumen of their heads.
The group said it was in possession of evidence showing that in the coming days, more senior officials of the NNPCL and its subsidiaries would be targets of the same smear campaign mete to Kyari and Wunti.