Easily one of the highest-ranking females in Nigeria’s male-dominated oil and gas space today, the Executive Vice President, Upstream, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Oritsemeyiwa Amanoritsewo Eyesan, is by no means a pushover when it comes to persons with a deep knowledge of the industry in the country.
A combination of brains and brawn, Eyesan, who was appointed to the position by President Bola Tinubu in September 2023, came to the job as unarguably one of the most experienced Nigerians to have led the upstream operations of the national oil company.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, Eyesan has either led or has been directly involved in some of the most ground-breaking innovations at the NNPCL that have propelled the oil firm to its current state.
Eternally passionate about the sector in Nigeria, Eyesan, on whose shoulder now lies the responsibility of leading upstream operations at the NNPCL, including raising Nigeria’s crude oil production which has been a major issue for at least three years, has taken up the gauntlet with unrivalled composure and focus.
Under Eyesan, in December, according to data from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Nigeria succeeded in hitting one of its highest crude oil production targets in years, achieving 1.418 million barrels per day (bpd), based on secondary sources. This figure excludes condensate which is usually outside OPEC’s computation. This hadn’t happened in at least three years.
Under her leadership of upstream operations, Nigeria has ensured that some level of sanity has now returned to the Niger Delta.
She has brought to bear her conflict resolution skills, which has now, to some extent, resulted in the substantial reduction in vandalism of assets and oil theft in the region.
Still, with Eyesan as head of NNPCL upstream, in October last year, just a month after her appointment, the national oil firm moved to cut the contracting circle to an optimal level of not more than 180 days, compared to over 300 days before then, therefore improving the ease of doing business, reducing cost and driving efficiency.
Eyesan did not just come from ‘just anywhere’, to take charge of the critically important upstream operations of the NNPCL, as some of the naysayers wont to believe. Indeed, she’s a dyed-in-the-wool oil woman, as it were.
Her rise to that position, therefore, couldn’t have been accidental. It would seem that she has literally prepared all her life for this latest posting.
She has always been instrumental to many milestones recorded by the NNPCL, driving the strategic, fiscal, commercial, and regulatory conversations that led to the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and by extension, the transformation of NNPCL into a fully commercial entity.
Besides, she delivered the renewal of Nigeria’s Deepwater Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) in record time, paving the way for over $10 billion in investments.
Before her elevation to the new position, Eyesan midwifed the first-ever Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation in Nigeria, strengthened energy security by leading the acquisition of equity in Dangote, Azikel and other refineries and doubled NNPC Ltd’s downstream market share by masterminding various acquisitions.
In addition, she implemented a corporate-wide Business Continuity Plan (BCP), thereby sustaining business performance during the COVID-19 crisis, institutionalised Enterprise Data Governance as well as Sustainability Culture in NNPCL.
She has led teams that developed corporate strategy, influenced government policies, regulations and laws, orchestrated commercial agreements, especially in processes that require extensive stakeholder management.
Again, to show that Eyesan did not just “come from anywhere”, from joining NNPCL as a lowly Material Traffic Officer in the then NNPC PROMAS in 1992, she had held over 10 positions, culminating in taking over as the Chief Strategy & Sustainability Officer, NNPC Ltd Corporate Strategy & Sustainability in 2022.
That is why it is laughable and indeed a disservice to core industry professionals when some faceless groups, that have no inkling what it takes to rise from the bottom in one of Africa’s biggest corporate entities, try to throw mud at this diligent, industrious and thoroughbred professional who by dint of hard work has defied all odds to reach her current position.
These gossipmongers, whatever their intentions are, should by now realise that their aim to diminish conversations around serious issues like the elevation of a passionate, competent and fit-for-purpose top-notch expert to head NNPC’s upstream operations to mere favouritism (whatever that means) has failed woefully.
In the same vein, it also smacks of sheer ignorance and unfathomable level of desperation for any individual or group to think that the EVP, Upstream, can “unilaterally” award contracts for pipeline security in the Niger Delta.
To be sure, those pipeline contracts were first awarded long before she was elevated to head that critical segment of the NNPC’s operations.
To cap the whole malicious activities of the faceless groups, they have, albeit in futility tried to set the EVP against her boss, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari. This again, is a fruitless exercise.
Whatever the distractions, these people by now should know that from her antecedents, this EVP is built differently. Her job as the head of the upstream operations of the NNPCL is clearly cut out.
Whoever is behind these attacks must know that Eyesan is fully focused on the task before her and won’t take her eyes off the ball, no matter the plan to distract her.
.Adeoye, an advocate for good governance, writes from Kaduna.