Last week the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had a furious diatribe against the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru. Kachikwu’s letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on alleged matters of insubordination and lack of adherence to due process perpetuated by Baru was confidential information released unofficially. Like a hurricane it made a landfall in the media in the mold of what may be named Kachileaks.
Kachikwu alleged that for over one year of Dr. Baru’s tenure, no contract has been run through the Board which he asked the President to intervene to avoid wrongfully painting him (the President) as one who does not allow Due Process to thrive in NNPC. Kachikwu’s allegations included US$10billion Crude Term contracts, the US$5billion Direct Sale Direct Purchase, DSDP contracts—the US$3billion Abuja-Kaduna-Kano, AKK Gas pipeline contract—value approximately, the US$3billion NOC allocation funding contracts and various NPDC production service contracts valued between US$3billion and US$4billion.
The allegations against the GMD were so weighty and questioned the integrity of President Buhari’s war against corruption. The President was prompt in action this time around with two tete-a-tetes arranged last week Friday; one between President Buhari and Kachikwu and the other with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Baru.
The NNPC in its response dispelled Kachikwu’s claims of the crude oil term contracts that had values running into billions of dollars. The NNPC said Term contracts are for off takers lifting crude oil. They said NNPC does not pay any amount of money to successful bidders as insinuated. NNPC explained that off takers lift crude and pay money to government coffers; a standard practice that had endured since the inception of the NNPC including the one year tenure of Kachikwu as GMD.
If there was infraction why did Kachikwu wait for up to one year before raising alarm when there are disciplinary measures for insubordination(s) including query and copying the President? In August 2015, Buhari appointed Kachikwu as the GMD of NNPC without a Board. Again on November 4, 2015, he (Kachikwu) was privileged to be appointed Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. Issues bothering on the propriety of one person performing multiple roles of Minister, Board Chairman, Board and NNPC GMD were raised.
It lasted from August 2015 to July 2016. When one consulted the 1999 constitution as amended one discovered that Chapter 6 Section 148 (1) says “The President may, in his discretion, assign to the Vice-President or any Minister of the Government of the Federation responsibility for any business of the Government of the Federation, including the administration of any department of government.”
That assignment may have empowered the Minister/NNPC GMD on May 11, 2016 to withdraw subsidy on petroleum products including PMS which went up from N86.50 to N145 without Nigerians debating it. The decision killed many businesses, with many more still in the intensive care units today. Our lawmakers must as a matter of urgency amend that section of the constitution to prevent a recurrence. The bone of contention is who does what? Baru as GMD is holding on to the statutes that recognized him as the man in charge of operations.
Kachikwu as Board Chairman is for policy and guidelines. Both held on to their comfort zones. The picture is like what renowned novelist Chinua Achebe painted in his celebrated Things Fall Apart of let the kite perch and let the eagle perch and whoever prevents the other should have its wings clipped. Kachikwu may have enjoyed the perks of office including awarding term contracts and the values in billions of dollars in his one year tenure as sole administrator. Withdrawal of privileges often elicit crying wolf but that’s the way the cookie crumbles in government and corporate governance.
Again, Kacikwu alleged that since Dr. Baru resumed as GMD, he was never given the opportunity to discuss the recent appointments before the announcements. Some observers have said two wrongs do not make a right. Kachikwu’s restructuring in March 2016 as Sole Administrator of NNPC had the two house unions, PENASSAN and NUPEN accuse him of increasing the number of subsidiaries and allegedly appointed heads of these subsidiaries without interviews to determine their suitability for effectiveness and efficiency.
He redeployed Dr. Baru who was the NNPC Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production, E&P to the Ministry as his Technical Adviser in charge of upstream operations. It was the same Baru that took over from him as GMD on July 4, 2016. Within the period, Kachikwu must have courted this animosity that trailed him.
We ask where our refineries are. The infightings had stalled the rehabilitation of all the refineries because Kachikwu is allegedly claiming he has approval while the operators, NNPC say it is their responsibility. Nigeria as a factor in the unbalanced equation is the sufferer. Kachikwu and Baru must bury the hatchet for the betterment of Nigeria. Mutual respect is necessary. Nigeria is not benefitting from wrangles between and among senior government officials in this administration.