Festus Marinho, pioneer NNPC MD dies aged 87

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Festus Ayodele Marinho, the first group managing director (GMD) of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), died at age 87 on Tuesday.

Marinho was the first and only managing director of the defunct Nigerian National Oil Corporation (NNOC), the forerunner of NNPC.

He was born on December 30, 1934 at Ijebu-Ode and attended St. Gregory’s College Obalende, Lagos. He graduated with a bachelor of science (special honours) in physics from the University of London in 1960.

He then proceeded to Imperial College, London for post-graduate studies in petroleum reservoir engineering from 1960 to 1961.

He was also the only one who served twice as GMD of NNPC, having served from 1977-1979 and 1984-1985 respectively.

During his tenure at NNPC, he personally supervised the planning, construction and management of the three major refineries, depots and pipeline network that transverse the breadth of Nigeria.

After his tenure at the corporation, he played further background roles in the oil industry, including serving as alternate chairman of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited and the Bonny Gas Transport Company Ltd.

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After his retirement from public service, Marinho bagged traditional chieftaincy titles, professional and religious awards including the papal knighthood of St. Sylvester.

He also served in various capacities in the oil and gas industry, including former chairman of Lekoil Limited.

In a condolence message to Marinho’s family, Mele Kyari, current NNPC GMD, described him as “father of oil and gas industry in Nigeria” because of the pioneering roles he played in the crafting of the institutional framework, infrastructural development and international best practices being used in the corporation till date.

“His role in refinery and pipeline construction and human capacity development are all testimonies of his contribution to national development,” Kyari said.

“He was indeed a rare gem and we will surely miss his wisdom and wealth of experience.”

He said Marinho’s visionary leadership provided the foundation for what has come to be known as “Nigerian content”, adding that his achievements in NNPC would be a beacon and inspiration for many future generations of staff and leaders.

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