There is presumably a supremacy battle between the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu who has accused the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru of humiliation and acts of insubordination.
Consequently, Kachikwu has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, in a letter, titled ‘Re: Matters of insubordination and lack of adherence to due process by the GMD NNPC – Dr. Baru’.
In August 2015, Buhari appointed Kachikwu as the NNPC GMD, but replaced him with Baru in July 2016 and made the minister the chairman of the NNPC’s board.
In the leaked memo, dated August 30, 2017, Kachikwu criticised Baru over a slew of perceived illegal practices such as repeatedly sidelining and disrespecting the board of the national oil firm, which is chaired by the minister of state as well as running a “bravado management style”.
Kachikwu’s three-page letter to Buhari outlined the various alleged misdemeanours of the NNPC boss, urging Buhari to intervene and address the concerns.
The minister disclosed that he wrote the letter to the president after concerted efforts to have a one-on-one appointment with him at the State House fell through since his return from the UK for medical reasons. He wrote:
“Mr. President, yesterday (August 29, 2017) like many other Nigerians, l resumed work and confronted with many publications of massive changes within the NNPC.
“Like the previous reorganisations and ‘repostings’ done since Dr. Baru resumed as GMD, I was never given the opportunity before the announcements to discuss these appointments. This is so despite being the Minister of State, Petroleum, and Chairman, NNPC Board.
“The board of NNPC, which you appointed and which has met every month since its inauguration, and which, by the NNPC, is meant to review these planned appointments and postings, was never briefed. Members of the board learnt of these appointments from the pages of social media and the press release of NNPC.”
The minister told Buhari that it was in the spirit of service and absolute belief in the President’s leadership and integrity that he (Kachikwu), after one year of tolerating the disrespectful and humiliating conduct by Baru, decided to bring the GMD’s acts to the President.
Kachikwu said he had been on a race to stabilise and move the industry to the next phase, adding that parastatals in the ministry and all CEOs at these parastatals must be aligned with the policy drive at the supervising ministry to allow the sector register the growth that had eluded it for many years.
The minister stated that in anticipation of vacancies that would arise from retiring senior executives of the NNPC, he wrote to the GMD a letter requesting that they both have prior review of the proposed appointments.
“Not only did he (Baru) not give my letter the courtesy of a reply, he proceeded to announce the appointments without consultation on board concurrence.
“Mr. President, please note that there is a board service committee, whose function is to review potential appointments and termination of senior staff prior to implementation. This committee was also not consulted,” Kachikwu said in his letter.
He said the open administration, which he introduced, had been completely eroded, as NNPC staff members were afraid of contacting the minister for fear of being punished, sidelined in appointments and targeted.
“The effect of the attitude of the GMD and the sidelining of the board is that there is a fear culture in the NNPC.
Listing his prayers, the minister noted that “we save NNPC and the oil industry from collapse arising from the above non-transparent practices and empower the board you inaugurated to do the needful.
“That you save the office of the minister of state from further humiliation and disrespect by compelling all parastatals to submit to oversight regulatory mandate and proper supervision which I am supposed to manage on your behalf.
“You kindly instruct the GMD to effectively leave the NNPC to run as a proper institution and report out along due process lines to the board and that Your Excellency instruct that all reviews be done with the minister of state prior to your decision.
“That to set right examples, you approve that the recently announced re-organisation changes be suspended until the GMD, myself and the board have made relevant input to same. This will send a clear signal of due process and transparency.
“That Your Excellency encourage joint presentation meeting between head of parastatals and the minister of state to you as to encourage a culture of working together and implant discipline in the hierarchy.”
Kachikwu said against the rules, some major contracts were never reviewed or discussed with him or the board of NNPC.
Some of these contracts, he stated, include the Crude Term contracts, valued at over $10bn; the DSDP contracts, valued at over $5bn; the AKK pipeline contract, valued at about $3bn; various financing allocation funding contracts with the NOCs, valued at over $3bn; various NPDC production service contracts, valued at over $3bn to $4bn.
“The legal and procedural requirement is that all contracts above $20m would need to be reviewed and approved by the board of NNPC. Mr. President, in over one year of Mr Baru’s tenure, no contract has been run through the board.
“As in many cases of things that happen in NNPC these days, I learn of transactions only through publications in the media,’’ Kachikwu wrote.
But the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in a statement by its Director of Press Idang Alibi titled: “Publication of a confidential official correspondennc”’ said:
“The attention of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has been drawn to a publication on a memo emanating from the HMSPR to the President.
“Please note the following: The communication under reference is a normal procedural correspondence by the Minister to the President relating to developments in parastatals under his supervision.
“It is most distressing to the Ministry of Petroleum resources that a confidential communication to the President on the performance of one of its parastatals can be made public.
“The focus of the communication was on improving efficiency and deepening transparency in the oil and gas sector for continued investor confidence.
“It is noteworthy that the President has been fully supportive of the efforts of the Ministry to entrench good governance and accountability in the oil and gas sector.
“The Ministry of Petroleum Resources remains focused on achieving measurable progress in the implementation of the ongoing oil sector reforms in line with the mandate of the President.”