A former Commissioner for Youth and Sports in Edo State, Hon. Chris Ewere Okaeben, lauded the re-appointment of Alhaji Umar Ajiya into the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) as its Chief Financial Officer, describing it as a “beacon of meritocracy, resilience, and dedication to service.”
Hon. Okaeben gave the commendation in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.
Recall that President Bola Tinubu few days approved the appointment of the Board members of the NNPCL, reappointing Mele Kyari as the Group Chief Executive Officer, according to a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on media and publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, on Monday.
According to Ngelale, the appointment takes effect from Friday, December 1, 2023, adding that the President also appointed the management team of the company, with Chief Pius Akinyelure as Non-Executive Board Chairman.
Hon Okaeben, also a former member of the Edo State House of Assembly, while commending the appointments, said: “Umar Ajiya, a stalwart in the oil and gas sector with a commendable track record at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has earned his stripes through years of dedicated service.
“His appointment to the NNPCL Board is not a mere gesture but a recognition of his meritorious contributions to the sector.
“President Bola Tinubu, known for his meticulous approach to governance, has undoubtedly placed a square peg in a square hole with this appointment.
“Umar Ajiya’s financial acumen and unwavering commitment to the success of NNPC are evident in his track record. “Throughout his tenure, he has consistently upheld the highest standards of financial management, contributing significantly to the corporation’s success.”
However, Hon. Okaeben condemned a recent media report by a certain Northern group, faulting the reappointment of Umar Ajiya.
The group had alleged that Ajiya sponsored the campaign of Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections, saying his appointment would be ‘counterproductive for the party and for the country.’
However, Hon. Okaeben said the claim by the group was a campaign of calumny geared towards distracting the President Tinubu administration from appointing Nigerians of competence and character to manage public offices in the ‘Renewed Hope’ Agenda.
“In the intricate world of Nigerian politics, where each move is scrutinized and every appointment dissected, a recent article has surfaced, questioning the appointment of Alhaji Umar Ajiya as a Financial Officer on the NNPCL Board under the administration of President Bola Tinubu.
“It is paramount to address this insidious attempt to tarnish the reputation of a seasoned professional, Umar Ajiya, and the commendable efforts of the President in steering the NNPCL towards the goals outlined in the Renewed Hope Agenda,” he stated.
According to him, “The insinuations made by these faceless characters, cloaked under the guise of a northern group, are baseless and lack substance.
“It is crucial to acknowledge that in the realm of opinions, even a mentally unstable person can have an opinion. However, the attempt to smear the reputation of Umar Ajiya appears to be rooted in personal vendettas and the ambition of individuals who covet positions within NNPC.
“The President’s commitment to selecting individuals based on merit, rather than succumbing to undue influence or lobbying, is a testament to his dedication to advancing the nation.”
Hon. Okaeben added that, “Some of these faceless characters pay substantial amounts of money to people, including Imams in both African and Arab nations, just to ensure the displacement of these talented Nigerians and take over their jobs that was never lobbied for in the first place.
“The appointments of Umar Ajiya and others are a result of their outstanding service and alignment with the vision of the President. Nigeria must remain vigilant against attempts to sow discord and must, instead, celebrate the strides made by individuals who have earned their positions through merit.
“The collective sentiment of many Nigerians resonates with the belief that President Bola Tinubu’s choices are guided by a commitment to national progress. Umar Ajiya’s appointment stands as a beacon of meritocracy, resilience, and dedication to service.
“Those seeking to undermine this appointment should redirect their energies towards contributing positively to the nation’s growth rather than fostering baseless narratives,” Okaeben added.