Presidency Bickers Over Who Signed Controversial NNPC Contracts


Abuja – The letter written by Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, in which he accused Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), of gross insubordination and impropriety may have elicited more confusion within the presidency as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who had initially owned up to having fore knowledge of the contractual terms involving the NNPC made a U-turn few hours later.

In debunking the initial tweet by his media aide, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo said he only approved loans bordering on backlog of unpaid joint cash call ventures and not contracts as earlier stated on Thursday.

Osinbajo denied in another tweet while he was still on Bonny Island, Rivers State, where he had gone to flag off the Bodo-Bonny Road project.

While reacting to the earlier statement on Thursday, Osinbajo said he granted loans and not contracts.

“They were financing loans, joint venture loans….so in some cases NNPC ventures have to secure loans and they need the authorisation to secure those loans.

“While the president was away, I granted authorisation which is what the law provides.

“The law actually provides for that authorisation, so I did grant all of those, in fact, there were two of them but those are presidential approvals but they are specifically for financing joint ventures and they are loans not contracts”, the vice president added.

Osinbajo’s media aide had earlier said that the vice president approved contracts for NNPC.

Akande said the contracts were approved after due diligence by the vice president when he acted as president recently.

The VP’s aide said his principal approved the recommendations for the contracts as part of necessary actions to deal with the backlog of unpaid cash calls and incentivise investments.

Akande said Osinbajo made the clarification in view of media enquiries that followed NNPC’s claim that the contracts were indeed approved by Osinbajo.

The VP’s aide tweeted: “In response to media enquiries on NNPC joint venture financing, VP Osinbajo, as Ag President, approved recommendations after due diligence and adherence to established procedure.

“Action necessary to deal with huge backlog of unpaid cash calls which Buhari administration inherited and also to incentivise much needed fresh investments in the oil and gas sector,” Akande had tweeted.

This confusion was coming amidst recent response by the NNPC GMD where he replied Kachikwu in a statement, saying no law mandates him to discuss contracts with the minister of state.

INDEPENDENT had reported exclusively that President Muhammadu Buhari may not be surprised concerning the allegations as he may have been in the know of happenings in the NNPC, especially as the Group Managing Director was a regular visitor to the Presidential Villa.

Kachikwu had in a letter addressed to the president entitled ‘Re: Matters of Insubordination and Lack of Adherence to Due Process Perpetuated by the GMD NNPC, Dr. Baru’ alleged that the oil corporation awarded $25 billion contract without following due process.

He had also in the letter insinuated that his office was being demeaned as neither himself nor the board of NNPC were privy to the $25 billion contract awards, before it was struck.

The said contracts cut across the crude term contracts- valued at over $10 billion; the DSDP contracts- valued at over $5 billion; the AKK pipeline contract- valued at approximately $3 billion; various financing allocation funding contracts with the NOCs – valued at over $3 billion and NPDC production service contracts also valued at over $3 billion–$4 billion which were never reviewed by or discussed with the board of NNPC.

But Laolu’s tweet indicated that the contracts were signed in July this year when Osinbajo held office temporarily as acting president.

Buhari had stayed away from the country on medical vacation in London on account of his ill health for 104 days, within those period series of meetings most of them held behind closed doors took place at the VP’s wing inside Aso Rock.

During Kachikwu’s closed door meeting with President Buhari recently, the vice president was also summoned to join the meeting.

He may have been called upon to explain what he knew about the whole development.

Baru who had observed the Friday Juma’at prayers with President Buhari last weekend was also alleged to have breezed into the VP’s office before taking his leave that fateful day.

The NNPC had stated in the response that two presidential approvals were granted to the NNPC for contracts with Shell Nigeria and Chevron at the rate of $1 billion and $780 million, respectively.

According to a reliable source within the presidency, Baru’s response to Kachikwu’s memo only came after Buhari had mandated the GMD and his team to react to the issues raised in the petition written by the minister.

“Following the publication of alleged lack of adherence to due process in the award of NNPC contracts, the president ordered the Group Managing Director and management of the NNPC to consider and respond expeditiously to the allegations,” the corporation said in a statement issued by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, in Abuja on Monday this week.

According to the NNPC, the substance of the allegations made by Kachikwu in his letter to the presidency where he alleged that a number of major contracts were never reviewed or discussed with the minister or the board of the corporation were false.

Baru had stated in his response that it was “important to note from the outset that the law and the rules do not require a review or discussion with the minister of state or the NNPC board on contractual matters.

“What is required is the processing and approval of contracts by the NNPC tenders board, the president in his executive capacity or as minister of petroleum, or the Federal Executive Council, as the case may be.

“There are situations where all that is required is the approval of the NNPC tenders board while, in other cases, based on the threshold, the award must be submitted for presidential approval, likewise in some instances, it is FEC approval that is required”.

Beyond approval for contractual terms, Kachikwu had in his detailed memo to the president lamented his lack of inputs in senior executive appointments involving the oil corporation.

He said neither he nor the board were in the picture of such important appointments as he learnt of most appointments from the pages of newspapers.

“The board of NNPC which you appointed and which has met every month since its inauguration and, which by the statues of NNPC is meant to review these planned appointments and postings, was never briefed. Members of the board learned of these appointments from the pages of social media and the press release of NNPC.”

The post Presidency Bickers Over Who Signed Controversial NNPC Contracts appeared first on Independent News Nigeria.

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Author: Innocent Oweh