More damning insights have emerged on Friday as to how some legal clauses frustrated the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Emmanuel Kachikwu from having “supervisory powers” over the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru.
Mr Kachikwu had in a leaked 8-page letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday accused Mr Baru of “acts of insubordination, humiliation, disrespect and lack of due process in the award of contracts.”
On Tuesday, DAILY NIGERIAN exclusively revealed why the minister reported the GMD to the President.
But in what could be seen as a new twist to the raging rift between the two oil czars, a senior NNPC official who preferred not to be named exclusively told DAILY NIGERIAN that the fight was beyond what was contained in the letter.
“The fight between Kachikwu and Baru emanated from two clauses within the NNPC. And these are the NNPC Act and the Clause in a correspondence from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to the then GMD of NNPC (Ibe Kachikwu) regarding contracts.
“In the NNPC Act,” the source added, “it was stated clearly that the GMD NNPC will report directly to the Substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources, in this case President Muhammadu Buhari. Sadly for Kachikwu, the Act was silent on the GMD reporting to him.
“Secondly, in a letter dated June 26, 2015, the BPP clarified a clause regarding the power of the NNPC Tenders Board (and not the NNPC Board) to award contracts without recourse to the Minister of State.
“The approval limit of the NNPC Tenders Board is $20m. But where such contracts exceed the tenders board’s limits, approval must be sought from the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
“And in the case of the $26billion Kachikwu claimed Baru spent without due process, it was the same Federal Executive Council, with Kachikwu as a member, that approved the contracts. How would Baru, who is not even a member of FEC, be blamed for side-stepping the minister and bypassing due process?” the insider queried.
Also, a correspondence seen by DAILY NIGERIAN from the BPP to the NNPC during Kachikwu’s reign as GMD/Minister of State for Petroleum, read in part: “The [NNPC] Governing Board is responsible for approval of the work programmes, corporate contract plans and budget while the [NNPC] Tenders Board is responsible for approval of day to day procurement implementation.”
According to the source, Mr Baru knew all these provisions very well and was using both in his dealings with Mr Kachikwu.
“Strangely, the same Minister who obtained such clarifications from the BPP while serving as GMD NNPC has now turned against it,” the source added.
According to him, “the whole bone of contention was because while Mr Kachikwu realized he was powerless to influence Baru as Minister of State in terms of contracts and other demands, the Minister could still not stand watching Baru having unfettered access to the President.”
The source further revealed that shortly after becoming the Minister of State and lost the authority to award “juicy contracts”, Mr Kachikwu successfully coned the President to make him Chairman of the NNPC Board.
“Unfortunately again for Kachikwu, he has no much influence on the GMD and his activities,” the source noted.
On the alleged skewed appointments, the source explained that what Mr Baru did was well in order as it was a continuation of most of the restructuring efforts earlier embarked by the Minister, while serving as the GMD NNPC.
“If you look at it critically, we can say nothing has changed. After all, Baru has been magnanimous enough to retain Kachikwu’s allies. The entire Chief Operating Officers (COO) of the Corporation were brought in by Kachikwu from some oil companies operating in Nigeria.
“For instance, among the seven Chief Operating Officers (COO/GEDs) currently working under Baru, five were actually appointed by Dr Kachikwu, three of whom came along with him from the International Oil Companies (IOCs),” he noted.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that while Mr Kachikwu brought in Babatunde Adeniran (COO Ventures), Anibor Kragha (COO Refineries) and Henry Ikem-Obih (COO Downstream) from outside, Isa Inuwa (COO Corporate Services), Bello Rabiu were sourced from within. Chidi Momah, who is still Secretary to the Corporation, was also hired by Mr Kachikwu.
The source finally noted that Mr Kachikwu’s letter has now torn apart what is left of the relationship between the two parties. “For now, it is beyond repair, and until Mr. President swings into action quickly, the end to this unhealthy rift may not be in sight,” he added.
When contacted, Mr Kachikwu’s spokesman, Idang Alibi, confirmed that only the NNPC Tenders Board not NNPC Board chaired by his boss, has the authority to award contracts.
Asked to further explain whether his boss was present at the Federal Executive Council meeting where the $26billion contract was approved, Mr Alibi declined comment, requesting that the questions be mailed to him.
He however did not provide the email address where DAILY NIGERIAN can send him the inquiries.