The head of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Miele Kyari promised “a new season of transparency and accountability”, pushing back against critics calling for the break-up of the state oil company as the country struggles to manage the fallout from battered oil prices.
Kyari, group managing director at NNPC, oversaw the public release this month of audited accounts for 20 of the company’s subsidiaries for the first time in the firm’s 43-year history.
The publication, while incomplete, provided a window into a notoriously opaque organisation.
It revealed how NNPC’s profitmaking investment, exploration and retail arms are propping up loss-making subsidiaries, particularly the country’s four refineries, which logged hundreds of millions of dollars in losses in 2018.
“We have done the right thing . . . we have followed the law,” Mr Kyari said in an interview, noting that a requirement to publish accounts was written into the legislation that established NNPC.
The lack of a consolidated audited account statement for the entire business meant the disclosure had provided an incomplete overview, said Oluseun Onigbinde, from budgIT, a Nigerian transparency organisation.
The details that were published painted a worrying, albeit unsurprising, picture of a giant, dysfunctional company that must be broken up, he added. “We need to dismantle the whole monolith and allow the subsidiaries to try singly — that’s the only thing that will make NNPC more efficient,” Mr Onigbinde said. You have oil prices bleeding, state financials are not solid enough, the federal government has to step up and say it’s time to rebuild this.”
Founded in 1977, NNPC dominates the oil industry in Africa’s biggest crude producer. It produces, buys, sells and trades crude, mostly through joint ventures operated by oil majors including Shell and Total, and regulates itself.