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Adieu, Wali of Adamawa: 1959 to 2022.

Late. Dr. Barkindo

“We lost our esteemed Dr Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo. He died at about 11 pm yesterday 5th July 2022,” the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, posted on his verified Twitter handle Wednesday morning.


A sudden departure

Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo lived for just 63 years he lived a life of unblemished service to the Nigerian nation and the world at large, especially within the global oil and gas ecosystem.

Indeed, it’s not the length of years one lives that matters as some maxim goes, but the length of impact one can make on humanity while alive.

Little wonder therefore that Barkindo died in active service while serving his country and the world as the Secretary-General of the oil body, OPEC, the fourth Nigerian to do so and the 28th person to hold the lofty position across Asia, South America and Africa.

His death came as a surprise because a few hours before his sudden passing, he had attended the opening of an oil and gas conference in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, and had also visited the presidential villa, with his delegation, to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, who was full of praises for him.

While at the Villa, he had intimated President Buhari of his imminent exit from OPEC as his tenure -of six years- was winding down. The President, in turn, appreciative of his services to the august oil body and Nigeria, described him as a worthy ambassador of the country and even informed the country’s national oil corporation, NNPC, and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to prepare a rousing reception for Barkindo whenever he drew the curtain on his OPEC years and returned home.

“You have indeed been a worthy ambassador of our country,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his media adviser, Femi Adesina, who went on to quote the President as saying “We are proud of your achievements before and during your appointment at OPEC and the proud legacies you will leave behind. Your time in charge of the affairs of OPEC has been a very challenging one for the global oil industry. Oil producers were finding it difficult to come together to address challenges that were crippling the oil market.”

Alas, the proposed grand reception would no longer hold as, instead of the invitation to the reception, the CEO of NNPC Ltd, Mallam Mele Kyari, on July 5, in a terse tweet on his official Twitter handle, informed Nigerians of the demise of Barkindo.

He tweeted: “We lost our esteemed Dr Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo. He died at about 11 pm yesterday 5th July 2022,” the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, posted on his verified Twitter handle Wednesday morning.

“Certainly a great loss to his immediate family, the NNPC, our country Nigeria, the OPEC and the global energy community. Burial arrangements will be announced shortly.”

For his current employer, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the secretariat of the global body said of Barkindo’s demise: “He was the much-loved leader of the OPEC Secretariat and his passing is a profound loss to the entire OPEC family, the oil industry and the international community.

His early life

Barkindo was born in Yola, Adamawa State, on April 20, 1959.

After his secondary school education, like kids of his age from the northern part of Nigeria, he proceeded to premier university in the north – Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he bagged a degree in Political Science in 1981.

Not resting on his BSc degree, he earned an MBA from South-eastern University, Washington, D.C, the United States of America in 1991. Before then, he had earned a diploma in Petroleum Economics from Oxford University


Barkindo’s corporate career traversed the banking, mining and oil and gas sectors, with the latter taking the biggest chunk of his illustrious career which earned him both local and foreign accolades.

Early in his career, he was appointed a special assistant to then Minister of Petroleum Resources and later Secretary-General of OPEC in 1986, Dr Rilwanu Lukman, who, incidentally was elected the President of OPEC that same year.

He led Nigeria’s technical delegation to the United Nations’ climate negotiations in 1991 and even several years

While under the tutelage of Dr Lukman, he had the privilege of representing Nigeria in OPEC’s Economic Commission Board from 1993-2008 thus exposing him to the nuances, politics and intrigues behind OPEC at such a relatively young age, in his twenties. He had also served as Deputy Managing Director of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas(NLNG), a JV between the Nigerian government and oil giants like the NNPC, Shell, among others.

He had the privilege of leading the global oil body in 2006 as its secretary-general in an acting capacity before being appointed as the Group Managing Director of NNPC from 2009 -2010 by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’dua. He was removed from office by Yar’dua’s successor, former President Goodluck Jonathan.

He was appointed the substantive Secretary-General of OPEC on August 1, 2016, in what perhaps could be described as the pinnacle of his illuminating career and was to exit from office on July 30, before death suddenly snatched him from mother earth on July 5 while still in service.

Statutorily, the Secretary-General of OPEC is the chief executive officer of the over six decades old body, overseeing its daily affairs, while liaising with the member nations, currently 13, and the non-member nations, in an alliance that has relatively stabilised the global oil market.

Ordinarily, the SG’s office is for three years and is rarely renewed for a second term of three years. This implies that at best, an SG can only serve a maximum of six years which was what Barkindo was about to complete this month -July – before his sudden death.

From all indications, Barkindo could be described as an OPEC man, all through and through having put in over three decades of service to the oil body, starting as an apprentice in 1986!

His tenure at OPEC as its Secretary-General spanned a series of production cuts intended primarily to keep the global oil market in balance which culminated in the unprecedented reductions during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Interestingly, his leadership of the organisation also spearheaded the founding of OPEC+, an alliance of 23 major oil-producing countries, whose chief responsibility is to provide stability for the world oil market. He was able to cement some solid relationships with Russia and the US, especially during President Donald Trump’s era.

Post-OPEC era, the Wali of Adamawa, who was to be succeeded in August by Haitham Al-Ghais, the Kuwait oil official in August, had planned to have a fellowship at the Atlantic Council Think Tank.


Leading the pack of his mourners was Atiku Abubakar, who shares the same state of origin -Adamawa- with the departed OPEC scribe.

Atiku, who is the presidential candidate of the opposition PDP in the 2023 elections, had written on his social media handles on learning about the demise of Barkindo: “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.
I am saddened by the passing away of the Wali of Adamawa, Secretary-General of OPEC, and former GMD NNPC, Dr Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo. Barkindo left indelible marks in his service to our nation and OPEC. He was indeed a worthy ambassador of Nigeria.

Atiku, former Vice President, said Barkindo died in active service, having delivered a speech at the ongoing Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference in Abuja and held a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari hours before passing.

“He was my very good friend, and he will be sorely missed. My condolences to his family and friends, management and staff of NNPC and OPEC. I pray that Allah forgives his sins and grants him Aljannah Firdaus. Ameen,” the politician noted.

His successor-designate, Al-Ghais, said: “This is indeed a very sad day for the OPEC family,” a view which was similarly re-echoed by Nigeria’s minister of state for petroleum affairs, Timipre Sylva and amplified by the president of Independent Petroleum Marketers’ Association(IPMAN), Chinedu Okoronkwo.


Barkindo, a core family man, was buried in Yola, his hometown, in accordance with the tenets of Islam as a devoted faithful of the religion.

Adieu, Dr. Muhammad Sanusi Barkindo 



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