First NNPC MD, Festus Marinho, Dies Aged 87
Pioneer Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Festus Ayodele Marinho has died at the age of 87.
He was the first and only MD of the defunct Nigerian National Oil Corporation (NNOC), the forerunner of NNPC.
Marinho was also the only NNPC MD who served twice – 1977-1979 and 1984-1985.
His second appointment was made by President Muhammadu Buhari as Head of State.
Upon joining the public service as the nation’s second Oil Technologist-in-Training, ever, he proceeded to the Imperial College, London for post-graduate studies in Petroleum Reservoir Engineering from 1960-61.
Rising through the ranks in the emerging Petroleum Resources Ministry, Marinho was appointed Managing Director of the NNPC at its inauguration on April 1, 1977.
Among the phenomenal achievements he fostered in the petroleum industry, it is recorded that he positioned the NNPC towards the realisation of government policies at a time when the government was run with some sense of nationalism.
He was also said to have been at the forefront in the drafting of some of the crucial petroleum laws and regulations.
Concerning infrastructural management, he was instrumental in the setting up of three refineries, with accompanying networks of nationwide crude and product pipelines and petroleum storage depots, within a decade.
His patriotic zeal was made evident when he pursued a Nigerianisation agenda that saw the influx of independent indigenous marketers into the erstwhile multinational-dominated products market, the domestication of technical expertise in the industry, and the aggressive commercial expansion of Nigeria’s natural gas into a success story.
What would have been a dark cloud overshadowing an enviable career was the N2.8 billion missing oil revenue, otherwise dubbed the ‘oil-gate saga’.
But Marinho was vindicated and re-instated for the second time as Managing Director when the Justice Irikefe Judicial Tribunal of Inquiry, upon painstaking investigation, declared the ‘oil-gate’ a hoax.
Chief Marinho once joked that he was the only person in Nigeria that was retired twice.
He said, “On the day of my dismissal, the Federal Government sent me a letter of retirement. The following year, the Minister also sent me another letter of retirement. So apparently, I’m the only one in Nigeria who was retired twice,” he said.
On retiring from public service, Marinho, who is a recipient of many traditional chieftaincy titles, professional and religious awards including the papal knighthood of St. Sylvester, served in various capacities in the oil and gas industry, including as chairman of Lekoil Limited.