NNPC: Having No Godfather Helped Me Remain Professional, Accountable — Ex-GMD Jackson Obaseki Says As He Bags Lifetime Achievement Award

A former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki, was visibly overjoyed when the Vanguard Newspaper Group conferred a Lifetime Achievement Award on him at an event on Friday.


The award came about 20 years after Gaius-Obaseki retired from the NNPC where he meritoriously served as GMD. Now known as NNPC Limited, it was formerly government-owned before its transformation from a corporation to a limited liability company.

In his acceptance speech, the Edo-born septuagenarian recalled that his appointment to the top position came naturally without having to know a “godfather” or “sponsor” but out of 28 years of “intense development and service” in the organization.

“NNPC was a great experience for me. After twenty-eight years of intense development and service in the corporation, I was recruited from within, to lead the organization at a time when the solvency of the corporation was not only a public concern but a major discussion topic as a new government had come into power. This was in the year 1999,” he recollected.

“I was christened a dark horse, an unlikely candidate of sorts as I showed absolutely no interest in competing for the role, especially since I was far down the corporate ladder at that time and had no sponsors or godfathers.

“God be praised for the mode of my invitation. This clean slate allowed my boss and I craft a very simple and streamlined working relationship i.e, I remained strictly professional while he handled the politics. The mutual trust and accountability that this working model required were very crucial to delivering for Nigerians. Daunting as it seemed then (After-all my boss was a General. whom I’d never encountered before), His grace was sufficient for me.”


Dedicates Award To Obasanjo

Gaius-Obaseki is not unaware that devoted service helped him deliver on the job but he was also humble enough to acknowledge the role of his former boss and then president and Minister for Petroleum Resources, Olusegun Obasanjo, who gave him a clear mandate to lead the corporation as GMD.

He recalled being given the task to “re-engineer the corporation and turn the performance around for the good of Nigeria and Nigerians,” adding that “It is often said that the man makes the office and not the other way round. I remain grateful to him for the trust and for availing me the opportunity to show the country and the industry the difference of God’s grace, channeled through one man, can make. Most importantly, I remain grateful to my boss for allowing me to leave when the ovation was loudest.”

Dedicating his award to Obasanjo, Gaius-Obaseki said “say what you like about Chief Obasanjo but my experience with him helped me draw one conclusion: He is a man who is very, very passionate about the present and future fortunes of Nigeria. I can say this confidently and without any fear because I worked very closely with him for nearly five years. By HIS grace, my boss is alive to witness this award. He appointed me based on adjudged competence. I am not from South West and never met him before the appointment. In the interest of our nation, we should always encourage mentorship rather than patronage.

He added, “Permit me to also share the joy of this award with my colleagues alive or posthumously in the NNPC management team I led. It was my role to dream the dreams, articulate the vision, chart the course and provide frontal leadership. It was theirs to execute. The outcome showed that they played their part well. Every true accomplishment is a product of teamwork. Prior to my retirement, there were genuine concerns and fears in some quarters that our adjudged successes and policies would be reversed. But I assured them that it would be very difficult and almost impossible in some of the areas. I, therefore, must congratulate my successors and especially the current management for sustaining the policies despite the usual challenges that full implementation of any well-intended policies. I celebrate you all. By HIS grace you will succeed.”


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