…Says ‘stolen’ funds kept for Buhari 2019 re-election bid
By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA-The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called for the immediate investigation into the alleged breach of due process in the $25 billion contract award involving the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru.
Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had on Tuesday in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, accused Baru of awarding contracts totalling $25 billion without the input of the NNPC board, even as he described his conduct as an act of insurbodination.
Reacting to the development, the PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, called for the immediate commencement of investigation into the allegations, saying President Buhari should, without further delay demonstrate his anti-corruption credentials by speaking up on the alleged scam.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wishes to express our shock at the loud silence of President Muhammadu Buhari on the humongous corruption scandal and other illegalities currently being exposed at the nation’s cash cow, the NNPC in which two of his henchmen, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru are the dramatis personae.
“As a political party, we expect that the President, who prides himself as an indefatigable corruption fighter, would for once try to live above board, by genuinely allowing one of his own, accused of corruption, get properly investigated and prosecuted as a show of his impartiality in the war against corruption.
“He should do this to correct the open impression Nigerians have about his so-called anti-corruption war; that it’s just a tool of persecution of perceived enemies,” the statement read in part.
The party warned against any official cover up, adding that Baru’s alleged misdeeds must be search lighted to prove his innocence or otherwise.
“We view the allegations levelled against Baru by Kachikwu as too grave to be swept under the carpet and we insist that the NNPC GMD must be treated like an accused who should not have the opportunity to influence investigation into his alleged misdeeds.
“We demand an immediate suspension of the NNPC GMD so that proper investigation can be carried out by the relevant anti-corruption agencies,” it stated, saying it appears President Buhari by his silence is shielding the NNPC boss in a manner similar to the case of one of his trusted officials some few months ago.
The statement continued: “Ordinarily, if there was sincerity in the anti-corruption war , President Muhammadu Buhari should not have waited for any prompting before he takes a decisive action on this matter, but as customary with his administration, we suspect that he’s trying to shield Baru as he did for Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) whom he merely suspended to allow the hullabaloo generated by the fraud perpetrated in the management of the emergency fund for the IDPs, die down. Also up till now, we have never heard anything again about the millions of dollars and billions of naira discovered at an Ikoyi apartment.
“Nigerians have not forgotten the acts of illegality and double standard perpetrated by the president in refusing to hand over Lawal to the EFCC for proper investigation and possible prosecution for graft, but rather, preferring to give the task of investigation of the open sleaze to the Vice President, in a move not known to any law of this nation.
“Even at that, the report of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led committee is gathering dust on the shelf of the President because he probably could not bear to see one of his closest allies punished by the laws of the land, even when all facts show that blatant and unbridled theft was perpetrated by the president’s man.”
The PDP further condemned what it called the “hypocrisy” of the Buhari administration, noting that the arms’ deal scandal for which Col. Ibrahim Dasuki is currently in custody for, was a fraction of the contract sum Baru is alleged to have fraudulently awarded.
It added: “The sum involved in the NNPC scandal is $25 Billion. Less than 10% percent of that ($2 billion) is involved in the so called arms’ fund allegedly converted by the former NSA for which hundreds of Nigerians have been arrested and hounded.
“Nigerians can now see the hypocrisy in the so called anti-corruption fight. We may as well say that the privileged class of APC members enjoys total immunity from the anti-corruption campaign.
“Tired of this double-faced corruption fight and cover-ups, we demand an immediate commencement of investigation into this latest exposed sleaze by another of President Buhari’s men.
“We have been saying this for months that the looting of the nation’s resources under this administration is record setting in the history of this nation and we are being proven right on daily basis by the little revelations that are being made by even those working under the administration.
“We wonder what the stench will be when the real and hidden atrocities being perpetrated under the watch of President Buhari are finally exposed when Nigerians throw the APC government out of power in 2019.
“The sum of $25 Billion said to have been the subject of the latest controversy, when converted to naira is about N9 Trillion, a sum that is bigger than the nation’s annual budget.
“This we find, is one of the very many reasons, the nation’s economy has nosedived under the inept administration of the APC.
“The allegations raised by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources is a confirmation of our earlier stance that the APC administration is in tatters, an administration without coordination, but one planted firmly in the hands of a few cabal who are stealing the nation dry while the President continues to feign ignorance of the sickening stench.
“If not, how on earth can President Muhammadu Buhari justify a situation where a Minister he appointed to serve under him, presiding over an important sector like the oil sector, be turned to a mere house-help who must get clearance from some “outsiders ” before accessing the president?
“How on earth will a mere Managing Director of a corporation have the temerity to sideline a minister under whom he works and take decisions without consultation with the appropriate authority?
“How on earth could the NNPC GMD have been bold enough to sideline the entire board of NNPC and take such far reaching decisions that have grave implications on the nation’s economy alone?
“We suspect and our suspicion is reinforced by the unfolding events that powerful people at the corridors of power are tacitly involved in this. If the President’s powerful Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari could sit on the NNPC board and such a calamity is taking place without an eyelid being blinked, we are forced to believe that the stealing is being done to the advantage of the President who has shown by his body language that the only thing that matter most to him for now, is his second term ambition.
“Will it be considered a “hate speech ” if we say the money being stolen by President Buhari’s men are being kept aside into a special pool for the prosecution of his second term ambition?
“We challenge the president to prove us wrong by allowing his allies being caught up in acts of brazen stealing of our commonwealth, get punished in accordance with the laws of the land. Anything aside this, we will take as confirmation of our suspicion that the rottenness is from the very top.
“We demand as bonafide Nigerians, an express order from President Buhari to the NNPC GMD asking him to go on compulsory leave so that investigation into the matter at stake can be conducted without interference.
“We also demand an order from the President to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies to immediately commence investigation into all issues of corruption levelled against Baru, as well as other persons who might have overtly or covertly participated in the illegal act.”
“Much as we commend the National Assembly for indicating interest in probing the allegations against the NNPC GMD as approved in the adoption of the motion moved by Senator Samuel Anyanwu at the Wednesday plenary, we wish to appeal to the leadership of the Senate to prevail on the Ad-hoc committee set up for the purpose of the investigation, to make their sitting open to all Nigerians so that nothing will be surreptitiously swept under the carpet.”