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SEPLAT Energy, Basil Omiyi: The exit of unparalleled veteran

There are always things to say and memoirs to document, whenever a veteran military General is pulled out of service!

Aside from the usual twenty-one gun salutes and general funfair, there is the official handover notes to guide the new commanders as well as the polishing of medals and decorations won in the course of the retiring veteran’s meritorious service.

These elements may seem mundane to the uninitiated, but are crucial for setting standards, upgrading protocols and motivating the new generation. It is this potpourri that this article hopes to encapsulate in a manner that is palatable to even the pessimists and the detractors.

The chequered history of how Seplat Energy emerged to become one of the foremost indigenous International Oil & Gas Companies (IOC) in Nigeria with a bias for onshore assets is in the public domain.

How it came to embed itself in the premium board of the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) and simultaneously in the London Stock Exchange (LSE) after it successfully transmuted from Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc incorporated in 2009 to Seplat Energy Plc in May 2021, headquartered in Lagos, is also well known.

The company also transitioned from the initial Management Board to the current board under the able hands of its outgoing Chairman, the distinguished gentleman, Mr Basil Efoise Omiyi, CON.

The subject of this piece is the person of Mr Basil Omiyi, CON, who has bowed out as Non-Executive Chairman of Seplat after ascending into that position in May 2022. His emergence in succession to the erstwhile founding Chairman was not without a protracted corporate wrestle (in which he eventually prevailed ).

Mr Omiyi spent five decades of his illustrious career traversing the length and breadth of the oil and gas world. The landmarks are too many to enumerate here.  His  Chequered career is littered with success milestones in technical and leadership responsibilities.

At the  Royal Dutch Shell Group,  he held various technical and leadership positions in Nigeria, the UK and the Netherlands. On return to Nigeria in 1992, Mr Omiyi was again involved in leadership roles as Production Manager, Director of External Relations and Environment and later Country Production Director.

He would later be appointed the Managing Director of The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd in 2004 thus becoming the first indigenous Managing Director of an International Oil Company in Nigeria and later, Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell Companies in Nigeria until his retirement in 2009.

Mr Omiyi who is also currently the Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Holding Plc, and TAF Nigeria Homes Ltd,

is a Fellow of many professional bodies, including The Petroleum Institute, UK, FEI, The Nigerian Mining and Geoscience Society, FNMGS, The Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists, FNAPE, and The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators of Nigeria, FCIArb. Mr Omiyi was awarded with National Honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON in 2011 in recognition of his pioneering role in the Oil and Gas Industry leadership in Nigeria.

At the earlier stage, Mr Basil Omiyi studied at the University of Ibadan from 1965 to 1970 where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and a Post-graduate Diploma in Petroleum Technology in 1970 after which he joined the then Shell-BP Petroleum Ltd in 1970 as a Wellsite Petroleum Engineer.

This veteran gained extensive insights and experience in the global oil and gas industry which particulars he brought on board to Seplat Energy.

His detailed knowledge and understanding of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Sector, together with Senior Management expertise gained in the large-scale multinational organisation were quite invaluable. Without any iota of doubt, his wealth of experience will be sorely missed at Seplat, except the organisation contrives an ingenious way to make its executives tap from his wealth of experience as mentees.

His tenure as Chairman saw him achieve the key objectives of streamlining the Corporate Governance function, accentuating Productivity by more than 80% within two years (with a commensurate increase in dividends to shareholders), expertly riding the tidal waves of boardroom subterfuge and successfully weaning the company from the apron-strings of devourers.

He also succeeded in fashioning out a smooth succession protocol in line with corporate best practices. Thus, he fully demonstrated his Crisis Management Skills with equanimity. Mr Omiyi demonstrated zero tolerance for corruption and corrupt practices and thus commands respect from friends and foes alike.

As the ultimate father figure and epitome of inspirational leadership, Mr Omiyi is always interested in team bonding and capacity building towards bringing out the best in colleagues and subordinates alike.

His tenure in Seplat witnessed unprecedented improvements to employee compensations and benefits in terms of welfare, remuneration, career development and growth opportunities, so much so that when senior officers retired, replacements were no longer sourced from outside the company! His simplicity, kindness and humility are unparalleled.

He is completely detribalised and humane, an equal opportunity advocate. He advanced the lot of the female gender in Seplat under the aegis of Seplat Awesome Women.

Right from his early school days, his alma mater at Esan (Ishan) Grammar School, Uromi could swear by his loyalty and total commitment to the common cause. Once he gets personally involved in any noble cause, Mr Omiyi will neither relent nor look back to count the cost. He is the ultimate champion of the indigent.

Engineer Basil Efoise Omiyi, born on January 17, 1946, was a devout worshipper, just as his dear wife, May, together with him raised a vibrant family. Everywhere he went (home or abroad), his humility, gentility, advocacy, diplomacy, deep knowledge, dexterity, and empathy, oozed effortlessly to pervade his entire milieu and wafted like a skilfully crafted kite that finds sail in a clement beachside wind. Most of Mr Omiyi’s colleagues, contemporaries and subordinates would readily attest to his effortless leadership and mentorship.

Mr Basil Omiyi’s spirituality is given full expression in the comfort of the Catholic Mass environment, where he finds necessary solace. This is also complemented by his love for the keyboard, through which he follows the footprints of the Masters on the Piano. He is a well-practised and skilful connoisseur of good pianists and one would not be surprised to find this demonstration one of these days.

As the giant oak quietly steps aside, we are hoping his good works will continue to be watered by his successors, while we wish him many more years in good health and relevance to society.

Farewell, Chairman! Farewell, dear gentle giant!


By Dan Aibangbe

Dan Aibangbe is a Media and Public Relations Consultant.


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