If there was an avatar for instability and inconsistency, Mele Kyari, the staid Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC, would clearly and certainly fit the bill.
Until he got shamed by the recent allegation he levelled against four top oil companies that they are guilty of importing adulterated fuel into the country, Kyari’s life bloomed like a prairie dotting the promenade of acclaim. This minute, however, the world unfurls for the NNPC GMD in bleak blossom.
As chrysanthemums wilt from soft yellow to antique bronze, his reputation has been smeared with dishonour in the wake of the adulterated fuel saga. The furnace of public office melts off specious characters, like poorly formed/forged decal; hauled inside the heat, but only a man of unimpeachable fibre may emerge pristine, unscathed.
But unlike Kyari, he resorts to elaborate invention, doctoring falsehood to resound as feeble truth, simply because reality is neither ghoulish nor scandalous enough. The lie told by the GMD has got smashed by the anvil of truth just before it assumed a despicable life of its own.
In the wake of the prevailing fuel scarcity across Nigeria, Kyari had alleged that MRS, Oando, Duke Oil, and a consortium consisting of Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U were responsible for bringing adulterated PMS into the country. Upon discovery, Kyari disclosed that he ordered the withdrawal of all the affected products in transit (both truck & marine). Whether this allegation was based on empirical fact or not would not be known but Kyari said it with undisguised gusto and the media, typically, sensationalised it while the critical Nigerian populace slated the companies.
However, the oil companies – MRS, Emadeb, Brittania-U and Oando – have now come out to state their own sides of their story, coming short of blatantly calling Kyari a barefaced liar. In separate rebuttals, the companies vehemently denied importing the high methanol-laden petrol that is unacceptable in Nigeria.
MRS Oil Nigeria Plc, chaired by Kano-born billionaire, Sayyu Dantata, in a newspaper advertorial, stated that it remained a responsible corporate citizen and would not be involved in the purchase, importation, distribution or marketing of substandard petroleum products in the country. “Due to the current subsidy regime, NNPC is the sole supplier of all PMS in Nigeria.
Consequently, the NNPC through their trading arm, Duke Oil, supplied a cargo of PMS purchased from international trader Litasco and delivered it with Motor Tanker (MT) Nord Gainer. This vessel discharged in Apapa between the 24th and 30th of January, 2022,” stated the MRS.
The company added that as one of the beneficiaries, it received the product in its depot and distributed it to only eight of its stations in Lagos, stating, “The eight stations have been isolated, but there are other tanks within the stations, which will receive uncontaminated product for sale as soon as possible. In view of the above, ‘MRS’ will continue to work with NNPC and NMDPRA, for the evacuation of the contaminated product to NNPC, who is the sole supplier of the product.”
On its part, Brittania-U also denied involvement in the importation of the off-spec petrol in circulation, stating categorically that it never imported off-spec products as claimed by Kyari. “Our imported products were all as per NNPC product quality requirements, so to state otherwise will be unfair. In order to clear our company’s name, we have made all the documents available, which clearly exonerated our company from the negative publication making rounds, which are all aimed at trying to tarnish our image of repute built over the decade,” the company added.
Also reacting to the allegation, Oando Plc., denied any involvement in the importation of methanol-blended petrol into the country, declaring that it did not import and supply PMS that was adulterated or substandard. The company stated, “We are committed to working assiduously with the NNPC and industry to identify the root cause(s) of the subsequent contamination of the PMS supplied. We want to assure the public that Oando as a responsible corporate citizen would not partake in the importation, distribution, or marketing of substandard petroleum products.”
Interestingly, only Duke Oil, NNPC’s trading arm, also engaged in the Direct-Sale-Direct-Purchase arrangement with NNPC, has been mute about the allegation of importing the bad fuel.
Even more interesting is that since all the companies have denied culpability, the question now is; who then imported this off-spec petrol that has caused pains and embarrassment to the government and people of Nigeria?
Surprisingly, the NNPC boss has been silent about the renunciations by the companies he earlier accused of importing the toxic fuel.
According to a source NNPC’s Duke Oil is the most likely source of the entire bad fuel and that Kyari was trying to be clever by half, by lumping it on some other DSDP contractors.
The source added: “You can see that he (Kyari) kept quiet immediately the denials of the accused companies started rolling in. He has nothing to say again. Kyari has been economical with the truth.”