Yetunde Bajela-Taiwo has been appointed the Head of Gas Business at Seplat, the continent’s largest homegrown hydrocarbon producer. In that position, she will oversee the development of one of the fastest growing domestic gas businesses in Nigeria. Taiwo was, until August 2015, the General Manager, Planning at NAPIMS, the Investment arm of Nigerian state hydrocarbon company NNPC. She was a member of the second-level management cadre that was retired as Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state at the Petroleum Ministry, swept into office as Group Managing Director of NNPC.
Bajela-Taiwo was head of planning and economics at Seplat before she joined NNPC in 2013, as NAPIMS’ GM Planning.Now her role in Seplat has a higher profile. The NPDC/Seplat Joint Venture, which Seplat operates, is currently the third largest supplier of gas to the domestic market, after the NNPC/Chevron JV and the NPDC/NDWestern JV.
As Seplat expands its operated gas production capacity from 300Million standard cubic feet per day to 525MMscf/d, Taiwo will be overseeing the business growth. “The gas business will pull in a third of our overall revenue”, says Austin Avuru, Seplat’s Chief Executive Officer. He had released Mrs. Bajela-Taiwo to NNPC “to help them in strengthening capacity”, Mr. Avuru says. “But when they asked her to leave, I wondered if they really were keen on retaining talent. I simply asked her to come back”.
Bajela-Taiwo’s forced retirement from NNPC, along with some of what oil industry watchers had come to see as “the selected tenth” of the NNPC, including Tim Okon-Group Coordinator, Corporate Planning & Strategy, David Ige- the nerdy, Group executive Director in charge of Gas Power and Victor Briggs, also a former GM Planning at NAPIMS, cast a cloud of doubt on the quality of the mass retirement that Mr. Kachikwu executed at NNPC. The fact that all these people were poached from the major companies less than 10 years ago helps the argument that long-time NNPC staff took advantage of the new administration, to push out non-NNPC types who were recruited, in the first place, to strengthen the corporation’s capacity.
Bajela-Taiwo joined Chevron Nigeria Limited in 1991, straight from Youth Service, as a reservoir engineer. By the time she left the American major, for BG, in 2007, she was a planning advisor at the company’s Asset Management Division. She worked for BG as Economics manager before she showed up at Seplat in May 2011 as head of planning and economics.