The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has disclosed that Mele Kyari, NNPC former Group Managing Director, now Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) NNPCL, and Mr. Umar Ajiya, Group Executive Director (Finance & Accounts) were paid gratuity as career officer as at now but not as tenured officer.
Garba Deen Muhammad, Chief Corporate Communication Officer, NNPC Limited, made this known in a statement reacting to an online publication (not EnergyDay) which claimed that both Mele Kyari and Umar Ajiya paid themselves gratuity running into billions of naira while still in active service contrary to the provision of the Nigerian public service rules.
EnergyDay gathered that Sahara Reporter had in a recent publication claimed that Mele Kyari and the Chief Financial Officer, Umar Ajiya have paid themselves gratuity running into billions of Naira.
According to one of the sources gathered that the top NNPC officials made the move over the fear of being retired compulsorily by the incoming government of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who would be sworn in as President on May 29, 2023, to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the statement debunking the allegation, the NNPCL spokesperson noted that the GMD and Group Executive Director (Finance & Accounts) career with Nigeria Petroleum Corporation ended in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and Appropriate Governance Circular.
He further confirmed that the GMD, Mallam Mele Kyari, and GED F&A, Mr. Umar Ajiya had been officially disengaged from services of the old corporation and were subsequently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to commence a new tenure as Group CEO and CFO in the new NNPC Limited.
He said, “The general public may recall the passage of the PIA and the successful transition of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to a commercially driven National energy company, NNPC Limited.
“The PIA 2021 has in addition to the creation of NNPC Limited made clear and unambiguous provisions relating to Governance, Administration, and the appointment of a CEO, CFO, and Board of Directors by the President.
“The PIA 2021 is deliberate about the long-term sustainability of the 20 years long petroleum industry reform that climaxed in the creation of the NNPC Limited as a commercially driven National Energy Company with focus on a sustainable value creation.
“Pursuant to the provisions of the ACT, the appointment of the CEO and CFO of NNPC Limited by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is on the basis of distinct terms and conditions of Service including tenure, employment benefits, and termination. The appointment of CEO and CFO is not a career posting as erroneously presented by the online publication.
“Specifically, section 59(3) of the PIA 2021 has clearly stipulated the conditions to be considered in appointing the CEO and CFO of NNPCL without recourse to previous employment ranks in the Corporation.
“The previous rank of GMD or GED F&A was therefore not a consideration in the appointment of the CEO or CFO of NNPCL.
“Consequently, by virtue of the appointment of Mele Kyari and Umar Ajiya as NNPC Limited Group CEO and CFO respectively bu for a tenure of five years each with effect from 16, September 2021 has ended their employment with the Corporation and are thus entitled to their terminal benefits in respect thereof.
“Based on the provisions of the Act, the new tenured roles they assumed with NNPC Limited cannot be regarded as a continuance of their previous positions in the defunct Corporation.
“For further clarity on the misrepresentation of facts, the circular issued by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, dated 27 July, 2009, has explicitly stated that appointments as Chief Executive of Government-Owned Companies are tenured appointment, and in respect of such tenured appointments, career officers who wish to take up such appointment shall retire from service, in order to run their tenure uninterrupted.
Mr. Muhammad further emphasised that the circular recognises a distinction between a tenured appointment to serve as CEO of a government-owned company as distinct from a career office. He added that public service rules require termination of any fixed career appointment to take up a tenured role.
He said, “It is therefore our belief that the informed general public will disregard misinformation and misrepresentation of facts published by Sahara Reporters.
He also noted that the NNPC compensation does not pay gratuity into billions and that the defunct Corporation was a compliant organisation that was committed to delivering greater value to Nigerians in strict compliance with extant laws and circulars.
The NNPCL spokesperson however noted that the Group CEO and the CFO have demonstrated patriotism by ending their career appointments with the Corporation to serve the nation on five years of tenured appointments in NNPC Limited.
He also threatened that the NNPC would seek necessary legal steps to seek redress for what he claimed was a malicious publication by Sahara Reporters.