Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, says it is distressing that the letter he wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari was leaked.
In the letter, which was circulated on social media on Tuesday, Kachikwu notified the president of the alleged insubordination of Maikanti Baru, group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He said he was being sidelined based on allegations that he is corrupt, anti-north and conspiring with militants.
Kachikwu also accused Baru of not consulting with the NNPC board.
But in a statement which Idang Alibi, director of press in the ministry of petroleum, issued on his behalf,
“The attention of the ministry of petroleum resources has been drawn to a publication on a memo emanating from the honourable minister of state for petroleum resources to the president,” the statement read.
“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.”
Meanwhile, the senate has resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to probe the allegations made by Ibe Kachikwu in the letter.
Kachikwu also accused Baru of insubordination and of awarding contracts without due process.
“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,” he wrote.
“Indeed, in anticipation of vacancies that would arise from retiring senior executives of NNPC, I wrote the GMD a letter requesting that we both have prior review of the proposed appointments.
“Not only did he not give my letter the courtesy of a reply, he proceeded to announce the appointments without consultation on board concurrence.”
On Wednesday, the senate while considering a motion on ‘allegations of corruption against NNPC trading: time to conduct a holistic investigation’, resolved to probe the allegations after Kabir Marafa drew the attention of the lawmakers to them.
Earlier, while moving the motion, Samuel Anyanwu, senator representing Imo east, said Baru allocated “almost all products to Duke Oil, this is in addition to its automatic inclusion in the lifting of crude oil, gas etc, which thus, made Duke Oil a money spinning outfit that is accountable only to NNPC”.
The senator said “Duke Oil as the sole importer of AGO has slowed down the growth of the country’s indigenous companies”.
“Since NNPC owns NNPC trading limited and the refineries, they also shortlist companies that get allocation of products, lifting of crude oil and importation of products thus, giving undue advantage to the in house company, even where it lacks the capacity and requisite requirements to do what it is doing today,” he said.
“The general lack of transparency and level playing field in favour of Duke Oil to lift products without payment as against its competitors in the sector. These have combined to make Duke Oil the highest money earner and at the same time, the highest money waster because of the massive corruption in the way and manner they transact business.”
He said Duke Oil lacked the credentials to trade internationally and its relationship with the NNPC has stifled the “growth of indigenous companies operating in the sector”.
Aliyu Wamakko, a senator representing Sokoto, is the chairman of the ad hoc committee charged with investigating the allegations. – With Thecableng