Years after the exposure of alleged illegal oil contract by the former Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, against the then Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, during the first tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Nigerian Presidency appears to be under pressure as details of the contracts were disclosed by the NNPC GMD that the contracts were approved by the President while in the United Kingdom. Perhaps.
The leakage of the contracts may have cost Kachikwu his job in the second term of the President, the scandal still persists in the polity.
A revelation has been made by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, that President Muhammadu Buhari approved contracts for oil transactions for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation while he was on medical vacation to London, the United Kingdom some years ago.
The signing of the oil contracts was done after President Buhari had handed over power to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to act on his behalf.
Invariably, President Buhari was perceived to be exercising executive powers while he was on medical vacation to the U.K. and after he had handed over power to the vice president as Acting President.
The NNPC GMD, Baru, had revealed that President Buhari gave approval to ‘at least two separate oil contracts on July 10 and July 31, 2017, valued at $1 billion and $780 million, respectively.’
It was noted that “the N640.8 billion oil contracts (at N360/$ exchange rate) were approved when President Buhari was receiving treatment for undisclosed ailments in London, and when he was not supposed to be exercising presidential powers, having named Vice President Yemi Osinbajo acting president in a formal correspondence to the National Assembly.”
President Buhari departed the shores of Nigeria for the U.K. on May 7, 2017, about two months after he returned from his first medical vacation in 2017, where he spent 50 days in the U.K.
The President, after his departure, wrote the National Assembly on May 9, notifying the federal legislature that he had handed over presidential powers to Vice President Osinbajo as Acting President on behalf, while on vacation in London.
The President returned to Nigeria on August 19, after spending 103 days in London.
President Buhari on August 21, wrote the National Assembly, informing the lawmakers of his return to the country, and that he had “resumed” his “functions as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with effect from Monday, August 21, 2017.”
NNPC made the revelations while responding on behalf of Baru to the issues raised by a former Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, surrounding alleged contract fraud and insubordination.
The allegations generated heat between the minister and the NNPC GMD before President Buhari intervened to calm the storm.
Though Kachikwu served out the first term with the president, he, however, never returned for the second term. Many Nigerians were of the view that Kachikwu was not reappointed into the cabinet because of the revelations he made in the allegations.
In defence of Baru, the NNPC officials said that President Buhari was exercising executive powers in approving NNPC joint venture contracts while on medical vacation in the U.K.
The GMD had given details of the contracts, had highlighted:
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Kachikwu, in a memo to President Buhari on August 30, disclosed that “Baru unilaterally approved contracts without recourse to him or the NNPC board, amongst other concerns.”
The memo leaked two months later on social media on October 3.
The NNPC in defence of Kachikwu’s allegations, made a publication on October 9, revealing details of the contract, saying that it was approved by President Buhari.
The three contracts carried dates which indicated that two of the contracts, July 31 for the second contract with Chevron Nigeria, and July 10 for the contract with Shell, were approved by the president during the period President Buhari was not in London.
The GMD’s name was identified in the contracts as though he supervised the award of the contract in his position as the NNPC Group Managing Director.
Further details revealed that the contract which Kachikwu supervised when he was the GMD of NNPC on September 1, 2015, was the only contract approved by the President during the period President Buhari was in Nigeria.
Kachikwu, had in his memo to President Buhari, raised alarm that while the President was on medical vacation to London – May to August,.
The GMD Baru attempted to get direct approval from Acting President Yemi Osinbajo for ‘some personnel changes at the NNPC’.
Prof. Osinbajo had referred Baru back to Kachikwu for ministerial approval before making the changes, but Baru declined to consult Kachikwu.
It was indicated that the changes were not made until President Buhari came back to Nigeria on August 19. Thereafter, Baru announced the changes in NNPC 10 days later on August 29,.
Kachikwu was made to write a letter to President Buhari on August 30, protesting he was not in the know as Minister of State on the development in NNPC under the supervision of his ministry.