The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, on Wednesday mourned the demise of the pioneer Managing Director of the Corporation, Festus Marinho.
In a statement in Abuja, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Kennie Obateru, quoted Mr Kyari as saying the exit of Chief Marinho on Tuesday, was a huge loss to the Nigerian oil and gas industry and the country at large.
In the statement, Mr Kyari described late Marinho as “the first and only Managing Director of the defunct Nigerian National Oil Corporation (NNOC) – the forerunner of NNPC – and the only one who served twice as Group Managing Director of NNPC having served from 1977-1979 and 1984-1985 respectively.”
Mr Kyari recalled that Chief Marinho’s last appointment was made by President Muhammadu Buhari during his first tenure as Nigeria’s Head of State.
In a condolence message to the family of the late former NNPC boss, Mr Kyari described Chief Marinho as “the Father of Oil & Gas Industry in Nigeria” because of his pioneering roles in crafting of the institutional framework, infrastructural development and international best practices being used in the Corporation till date.
“His role in refinery development, pipeline construction and human capacity development are all testimonies of his contributions to national development while alife,” Mr Kyari stated.
The GMD said late Chief Marinho’s visionary leadership provided the solid foundation for what has come to be known as “Nigerian content” in the oil and gas industry, adding that his achievements in the Corporation would continue to be a beacon and inspiration for many future generations of staff and leaders.
“He was indeed a rare gem and we will surely miss his wisdom and wealth of experience,” the GMD stated.
Other oil industry chieftains have also sent condolence messages to the family of the former NNPC boss.
Marinho: A profile.
Chief Marinho was the first person to be appointed twice as the managing director of the NNPC between 1977 and 1979 as well as between 1984 and 1985.
Born on December 30, 1934 in Ijebu-Ode, Chief Marinho who had his childhood in the “Brazilian Quarters” of Lagos Island, attended St. Gregory’s College Obalende, Lagos.
He attended the then University College, Ibadan from1956, and became a ’College Scholar’ in 1957, before graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Special Honours) in Physics from the University of London in 1960.
He later joined the public service as Nigeria’s second Oil Technologist-in-Training, before proceeding to the Imperial College, London for his post-graduate studies in Petroleum Reservoir Engineering between 1960 and 1961.
On April 1, 1977, Chief Marinho .was appointed from the then Petroleum Resources Ministry, as the pioneer Managing Director of the NNPC at its inauguration.
He will always be remembered for his phenomenal achievements which helped position the NNPC towards the realisation of government policies at a time when government was run with some sense of nationalism and foster the growth of the petroleum industry.
He will also be remembered as being in the forefront of the drafting of some of the crucial petroleum laws and regulations in the country.
On the oil and gas industry infrastructural management, Chief Marinho was instrumental to the setting up of three refineries, with accompanying networks of crude oil and product pipelines and petroleum storage depots, within a decade.
To ensure the participation of Nigerians in the operations of the oil and gas industry, Chief Marinho pursued a Nigerianisation agenda that saw the influx of independent indigenous petroleum products marketers into the industry previously multinational dominated by foreigners.
He was also credited with the policy of domestication of technical expertise in the industry, and the aggressive commercial expansion of Nigeria’s natural gas into a success story.
It was during his time that N2.8 billion oil revenue was alleged to be missing. The crisis lead led to his removal from office.
But after investigations by the Justice Irikefe Judicial Tribunal of Inquiry, Chief Marinho was cleared and was re-instated in office for the second time as Managing Director.
He was later retired from public service in 1985. A recipient of many traditional chieftaincy titles, professional and religious awards, including the Papal Knighthood of St. Sylvester. He served in various capacities in the oil and gas industry, including as the Chairman of Lekoil Limited, a private oil and gas firm he established. Until he was died, he was aged 87.