There is an unspoken affinity the group chief executive officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), Mr Mele Kolo Kyari, has with the Southwest state of Osun. The cat had not been let out of the bag until Wednesday, the 17th of January, 2024, when the Biu, Borno State born geologist visited the state again for an official visit.
Kyari was the guest lecturer at the 2024 lecture tagged ‘Energy Security, Sustainability and Profitability in Nigeria: Advances, Challenges and Opportunities’, organized by the Faculty of Science, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, where he highlighted the benefits of NNPC Ltd’s Command-and-Control Centre to the battle against crude oil theft, and pipeline vandalism in the country.
Ahead of the lecture time, which was held at the Oduduwa Hall of the university, Kyari had led his entourage on an homage call to the palace of the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi. The NNPCL boss’ team was joined in the palace visit by select lecturers from the Faculty of Science led by the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Professor Adebayo Simeon Bamire. The entourage, which also include the team of one of the chief facilitators of the conference, Comrade Olufemi Aduwo, the Permanent Representative of Centre for Convention on Democratic Integrity (CCDI) to United Nations, made its first call at the palace’s VIP section where a brief introduction ceremony was held.
As soon as Kyari took the microphone after the official introduction by the palace’s protocol officer, and welcome address by the Ooni, he literally dropped the shocker; it is obvious many people didn’t know I am a son of the soil. I am one of your sons from Osun State, Kabiyesi”. The remark drew skepticism from those present at the occasion, including the monarch, his chiefs and also the academics who were supposed to know.
Not a man to procrastinate, Kyari opened up, disclosing that he indeed had his one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) service in Osun State. He served with the Directorate of Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) between 1987 and 1988 as a well site geologist. He added that while serving, he became acquainted with his host community and made friends with the people of Osun State. At that point, Professor Bamire corroborated his story. The OAU VC stated that he was stunned while on their way to the palace when Mr. Kyari took up his (Bamire’s) role as the host by his (Kyari’s) almost total understanding of popular locations in Ile Ife and even guiding on the fastest routes to getting to the palace. Bamire’s revelation drew massive applause.
The entourage soon moved to the main palace where the NNPCL chief and his team were fully entertained. The highlight of the palace event was Kyari’s baptism by Ooni Adeyeye. On account of his bond with Osun State and Ile Ife in particular, Kyari was given the name, ‘Omowale’, meaning the child has returned home, by the monarch. The honour didn’t stop at that; the Ooni also promised in the full glare of his guests to confer on Kyari a title befitting of a bonafide son of ‘The Source (Ile Ife), at a date to be made public soon.
The visit ended and the team moved to the lecture venue where Kyari addressed the audience on the importance of finding solutions to ensure sustainable energy security for the benefit of current and future generations. The NNPCL boss spoke on the challenges hindering energy security in Nigeria, which include the rapid population growth, pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, while he identified energy conservation, diversification, and efficiency measures as major avenues for enhancing energy security.
Other speakers at the conference include Professor M.A. Badejo, the chairman of the event; and Professor O.A. Adesina, Dean of the Faculty of Science, Obafemi Awolowo University.
Below are pictures from the lecture;