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Youth Leaders Demand Immediate Sack of NNPCL GCEO Mele Kyari Amid Crude Oil Controversy

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In a bold move that reverberates across Nigeria’s energy landscape, a coalition of ethnic nationalities’ youth leaders has raised their collective voice, demanding the immediate removal of Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL). Their call comes in the wake of a multifaceted crude oil controversy that has implications for the nation’s economic stability and energy security.

This call was part of a communiqué issued by the Nigeria Ethnic Nationality Youth Leaders Council Worldwide after their meeting in Abuja.

The communiqué was signed by Comrade Terry Obeih, President General of the Niger Delta Ethnic Nationalities Youth Leaders/NENYLCW; Alhaji Balarabe Rufai, President of the Northern Youth Congress/Vice President of NENYLCW; Aare Oladotun Hassan Esq, President of the Yoruba Council of Youths Worldwide/Secretary General of NENYLCW; Mazi Okwu Nnabuike, National President of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide/Publicity Secretary of NENYLCW; Comrade Emmanuel Zopmal, President of the Middle-Belt Youth Council/Organizing Secretary of NENYLCW; and Alhaji Hamisu Dass, President of the North-East Youth Assembly/Treasurer of NENYLCW.

The controversy borders of sabotaging indigenous refineries, Dangote refinery conundrum, and fuel costs and public expectations.

The NNPCL was accused of undermining efforts to revive indigenous refineries. These refineries, once vibrant engines of economic growth, have languished due to neglect and inefficiency. The youth leaders argue that Mele Kyari’s leadership has perpetuated this decline, hindering the nation’s self-sufficiency in refining crude oil.

At the heart of the controversy lies the Dangote refinery, a game-changer in Nigeria’s energy landscape. Devakumar Edwin, Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited, has publicly voiced concerns. He alleges that International Oil Companies (IOCs) are deliberately selling crude oil to the Dangote Refinery at inflated prices, obstructing its fuel supply as the refinery is forced to import crude at a higher cost from distant countries like the United States.

The Dangote refinery, poised to be Africa’s largest, holds immense promise. Its successful operation could significantly reduce Nigeria’s reliance on imported refined petroleum products. However, the alleged interference by IOCs threatens this potential.

With fuel costs remaining a persistent burden for Nigerians, the Dangote refinery represents hope. Citizens have pinned their expectations on its ability to stabilize fuel prices and enhance energy security.

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The group recalled that in March, Mele Kyari had assured that the Port Harcourt refinery would begin production within two weeks, following the mechanical completion of the refinery and the storage of over 450,000 barrels of crude oil there. Kyari had also mentioned the completion of mechanical work on the Warri refinery.

However, the youth leaders found it “strange” that three months later, there is still no sign of the refinery beginning operations. They also highlighted the recent accusations by Edwin about IOCs frustrating the Dangote refinery’s crude oil purchases.

The youth leaders argue that Mele Kyari’s tenure has failed to address these critical issues adequately. They believe that his removal is essential to steer the NNPCL toward a more transparent, efficient, and citizen-centric path.

The demand for Mele Kyari’s ouster is not merely symbolic; it reflects the urgency of the situation. As Nigeria grapples with economic challenges, energy resilience remains paramount. The youth leaders call upon relevant authorities to act swiftly, ensuring that the NNPCL prioritizes national interests over vested interests.

The group asserted that a cabal within the NNPCL was determined to prevent local refinery operations to maintain their control over fuel imports.

They demanded that Kyari resign, or failing that, be dismissed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. They also threatened to mobilize a national protest to shut down the country if necessary to rescue Nigeria from the current situation.

Furthermore, the youth leaders urged the National Assembly, led by Senator Godswill Akpabio, to probe the NNPCL under Kyari’s leadership.

They emphasized that local petroleum production would alleviate the suffering of the masses and supported President Tinubu’s economic agenda.

The group wrote, “We met today, Tuesday, the 25th day of June, 2024 and reviewed the economic situation in the country as it affects the common masses.

“After a thorough analysis of the situation, it is our considered finding that the NNPCL is sabotaging the effort of the government towards making fuel affordable for Nigerians.

“There is a serious matter considering that Nigeria is operating a mono-economy, and as such whatever happens to fuel price, has a spiral effect.

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“We want to start by recalling that earlier in March this year, the NNPCL MD, Mele Kyayi, promised Nigerians that within two weeks, the Port Harcourt refinery would begin production.

“The MD, who gave that assurance during his appearance before the Senate ad-hoc committee that was investigating the Nigerian Refineries’ Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) Projects, went as far as stating that more than 450,000 barrels of oil were stored at the Port Harcourt refinery.

“He said then that ‘We did a mechanical completion of the refinery; that was what we said in December. We now have crude oil already stocked in the refinery. We are doing regulatory compliance tests that must happen in every refinery before you start it, and I assure you that this Port Harcourt refinery will start in the next two weeks.’

“Kyari went further to say that, ‘Completing the mechanical work means that you are done with the rehabilitation work, now you have to test to see how it works. Of course, we have also completed the mechanical work on the Warri refinery. It is also undergoing regulatory compliance; processes that we are doing with our regulator, and this will soon be completed and it will be ready.

“Lastly, all the crude lines supplying crude to Port Harcourt and Warri are very active and we have delivered over 450, 000 barrels of oil into Port Harcourt refinery. We are confident of the integrity of it. There may be security issues, but the government is responding to that.’

“We, therefore, find it so strange that three months after that vague promise, there is no sign that the refinery will begin operation any time soon.

“To make the matters worse, just a few days ago, Mr Devakumar Edwin, the Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), accused International Oil Companies, IOCs, of frustrating the Dangote Refinery’s commencement of fuel supply by selling crude oil at higher prices.

“Edwin emphatically said that the IOCs were intentionally obstructing the refinery’s efforts to purchase local crude by inflating premium prices above market rates, compelling the refinery to import crude from distant countries like the United States, leading to significantly higher costs.

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“These are not matters to be swept under the carpet; they are both interconnected and have to be addressed by the Federal Government.

“The indices point that a certain cabal in the NNPCL has vowed never to allow local refinery of petroleum products in Nigeria, all in a bid to remain as the sole importer of the commodity and exploit Nigerians.

“We declare today that enough is enough; Nigerians have suffered enough, whereas a few people are feeding fat.

“The liberalization of the petroleum industry was meant to be a blessing to the country but the reverse is the case, this is not to talk of the Petroleum Industry Act which also talks of giving consideration to local refineries, but none of this is happening.

“Since the NNPCL had shown lack of capacity to manage the industry, the only honourable thing for Mela Kyari, the MD to do is to resign. However, should he fail to do so, we urge the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to sack him without further delay.

“Should Kyari fail to resign, the youths will not hesitate to mobilize for a national protest that will shut down the country if that is the only way to rescue Nigeria.

“It is clear that NNPCL under Kyari is bent on frustrating the President’s economic agenda, thereby worsening the suffering of the citizens and this is not good for the government.

“The National Assembly led by Senator Godswill Akpabio should immediately summon the courage to probe Mr Mele Kyari led NNPCL.

“We know that once we have our own local petroleum production refineries working at full capacity, where our local crude oil will be supplied directly to the aforementioned refineries either privately or government-owned, the suffering of the masses will be alleviated.

“As we reaffirm our support for Mr President, it is our hope that he will take this bold action in the interest of the country.”

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Comrade James Ezema is a veteran journalist and media consultant. He is a political strategist. He can be reached on +2348035823617 via call or WhatsApp.

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