- The leaked memo of Ibe Kachikwu to President Muhammadu Buhari is still a hot topic across Nigeria
- The minister of state for petroleum had written the president alleging insubordination on the part of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) boss, Maikanti Baru
- A Senate committee constituted to look into the issues raised is reportedly under pressure from the presidency to back down
A report by This Day indicates that the presidency has initiated moves to ensure the NNPC boss, Maikanti Baru, is not indicted by the Senate ad hoc committee charged with investigating him for awarding contracts to the tune of $25 billion without recourse to the NNPC board of directors.
The nine-man committee chaired by Senator Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto, APC) is charged with investigating Baru over the allegations raised against him.
Kachikwu's leaked memo to President Buhari accused Baru of insubordination and keeping the NNPC board chaired by Kachikwu in the dark in the award of contracts and promotion of senior executives of NNPC.
In his response to the leaked memo, Baru dismissed the allegations, saying he did not need the approval of the board, as all the contracts went through the NNPC Tenders Board, got No Objections from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), and were approved by the president.
He however refrained from commenting on the issue of his appointment of senior executives of NNPC without obtaining the approval of the corporation’s board.
The Senate ad hoc committee which was supposed to hold its inaugural meeting on Tuesday, October 17, postponed it to next week Tuesday, October 24, without any reasons given.
A source quoted in the report however said President Buhari met Wamakko later that day to lobby the committee to give Baru a soft landing.
According to the source, the president was prevailed upon to personally meet with Wamakko instead of delegating the assignment to any of his aides.
“Wamakko has a reputation for being firm and straightforward. Obviously, many senators were certain of his handling of the probe with him at the helm of the committee, because he would say it as it is.
“That is why the president’s aides convinced him (Buhari) to personally meet with Wamakko to ensure that the message is clear. If not, he would have delegated someone like Abba Kyari (the president’s chief of staff), or even any of the party leaders," the source said.
The source further said the motive behind the meeting was to ensure that Baru is not indicted by the committee and to prevent a recommendation for his removal from office.
“The motive of the meeting is to ensure that Baru is not indicted because that would make the Senate committee recommend his removal.
“Of course, most Nigerians already believe he was appointed for certain purposes and with Kyari on the board of NNPC, and the president himself as the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources, the purpose is clear.
“So the issue now is to make sure the ‘purpose’ is not scuttled,” the source added.
NAIJ.com could not independently verify if any such meeting took place, as at the time this article was posted.
Meanwhile, the Petroleum Tanker Drivers’ branch of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas has dismissed the allegations in Kachikwu's letter as diversionary and deeply political.
The national chairman of PTD, Comrade Salmon Oladiti, in a statement sent to NAIJ.com on Friday, October 6, warned against unnecessary politicization and promotion of certain entrenched interests in the oil industry, both in the upstream and downstream sectors, to the detriment of the nation.
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