Women Have Been Central to Our Operations, Success Stories in NNPC — Kyari

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By Ikenna Omeje

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kyari, has said that women in the national oil company have been central to its operations and by extension, some of its success stories.

He noted that women have helped to transform the corporation into a world class company of essence and led key strategic functions such as the Downstream Directorate, Corporate Planning & Strategy, Pipelines & Storage, Legal Advisory, Finance, Human Resources, RTI, Retail Services as well as LNG Investment Management Services, which are critical segments of the  company’s business.

Kyari stated this in his keynote address at the international women in energy Symposium themed “Light Up Africa” co-hosted by Women in Energy Network (WIEN) and the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN), which held virtually on Saturday March 13, 2021.

According to him,  the energy sector is pivotal to the development of every nation, noting that the growth of the sector can be better achieved when women are integrated into the system.

“Across the world, women in energy are giving a good account of themselves by taking their companies – and their careers too – to greater heights. Today, there are female engineers in every aspect of the engineering discipline and profession. From creative arts to space engineering, from the World Trade Organisation to the White House, in boardrooms and  management teams, the proportion of women changing the game and the number of firsts is increasing in a rapid pace,” he said.

“In NNPC in particular where the nations energy security is topmost on our mandate, women have been central to our operations, and by extension, some of our success stories. Today, I am proud to say that there is a good representation of the female gender on the management team of our Corporation as well as working across our operational locations such as rigs, gas stations, depots, plants and other technical facilities.” 

The NNPC GMD further stated that women need the support of men to break barriers, smash stereotypes, get to the height of their careers and actualize their dreams; adding that the key to industrializing and developing a country’s economy lies in inclusion of all stakeholders.

“I particularly think that women are special breed and need the support of every man, particularly everyone. But if you say everyone and you exclude the women, it means every man, especially, to break barriers, smash stereotypes, get to the pinnacle of their chosen careers and actualize their  dreams,” he said.

“As a nation, we are conscious that key to achieving our dream of industrializing and developing the economies of our various countries is the inclusion of all stakeholders, with emphasis on the women as they contribute immensely to the sustainable growth of our economy. “

Also speaking at the event, the Patron of WIEN,  Ammuna Lawan-Ali encouraged women in the energy sector to speak with one voice and work collectively to achieve women inclusion in the sector.

“Living in a very challenging world, we must speak with one voice and collectively, we must  challenge all thoughts of biasism and ensure the attainment of our full potentials,”  she said.

“While we celebrate this day, it is our utmost desire as an association that we all work collectively to achieve women inclusion in the energy sector; and shun gender bias, inequity and inequality.”

Noting the importance of ensuring that girls embrace Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education, she said: “STEM education serves as the driving force behind a lot of developments; in the energy sector particularly, as the sector moves  towards cleaner and more technologically reliable energy solutions.”

“While we encourage and advocate for necessity for educating the girl child and ensure that this is not to minimize attrition, we must promote the need for them to embrace STEM; appropriate and targeted training education, entrepreneurship and mentoring, are very essential,”  she further stated

On her part, the Chairman of Nigerian Content Consultative Forum (NCCF),  Alero Onosode, said that women need to begin to have conversation around their identity, adding that their ability to leverage on the good work going on within the energy sector lies in coming together.

“I think particularly as women, it’s important that we address the conversation around our identity; recognizing that we bring value and that we’re important as we’re,” she said.

“There’s a lot of good work going on in pockets within our industry, but our ability to leverage is important for us to come together; because it’s in the ‘us’ that we’re able to synthesize ideas, that we’re able to distil actions, that we’re able to amplify the efforts that are being made, and above all create the platform for catalytic change.”

Similarly, the Managing Director, Waltersmith Petroman Oil & Gas, Chikezie Nwosu, while making his contribution in a panel session, said it is “important that every single company that is in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — any of those kind of business — make sure that they have a dedicated girls in STEM program.”

Giving the closing charge, the CEO and Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, Damilola Ogunbiyi, challenged women in the energy sector to ensure there is fully inclusive environment in the sector and called on them to become mentors to the future generation.

“From young entrepreneurs to CEOs, we must harness and champion this leadership to achieve a prosperous and clean energy future for everybody. That’s why in both aspects of my work, which is in the Renewable Energy  for All and the UN, we’re constantly trying to challenge barriers deterring women to participate, and most importantly champion as future leaders for energy transition,” the former Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) said.

Earlier in her welcome address, the President of WIEN, Funmi Ogbue, said that the conference was organized to celebrate women in energy, women achievers in the space, encourage and showcase young ladies in STEM, sign a charter to commit to the action terms within a certain timeline, recognize men and organisations that have contributed to the success of women in energy and drive REAN and WIEN agenda.

Discussing the “why” for the collaboration between REAN and WIEN, the Executive Secretary of REAN, Land Abudu, said that it is to harness their combined strengths to work towards a common goal – gender mainstreaming in the energy sector.

She said that the need for the collaboration came on the heels of some statistics that give cause for concern. According to her, citing the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports, although women make up 48 percent of the global labour force, they only account for 32 percent in renewables and 22 percent of the labour force in the oil and gas sector.

She said: “IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) reports that although women make up 48% of the global labour force, they only account for 32 percent in renewables and 22 percent of the labour force in the oil and gas sector.

“Other studies show that in the energy sector, more women work in administrative jobs (45%) than in STEM-related roles (28%).

“How then do we contribute to those activities that will ensure that women can effectively participate in the energy sector? How can we demonstrate that there is a link between gender, energy and poverty? How can we increase women’s participation in the delivery of energy solutions? How do we encourage women into STEM-related fields? How can we work towards developing a Gender Policy to achieve gender equity and equality in the energy sector? These were the conversation starters. The ideas started almost informally around a virtual coffee table, leading to the signing of a formal agreement and activities rose steeply from there.”

Key highlights of the event include the official signing of gender charter to commit to the action terms, launching of Supernova Girls  and awards to some individuals and organisations who have contributed to the success of women in the energy sector.

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