The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been accused of trying to dismiss and render irrelevant the accusations raised by Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources.
The Accountability Vanguard (AV), an advocacy group, said this in response to comments made by Maikanti Baru, group managing director of the NNPC, in reaction to Kachikwu’s claims.
Baru had said the minister raised a false alarm.
The NNPC also told Kachikwu that his consent was not needed in the contracts he complained that the corporation board was sidelined.
But the group said Kachikwu’s consent was vital to awarding of the contracts.
“It’s unfortunate that a firm of the government expected by the act setting it up to be apolitical, like every other sector in Nigeria, has fallen to corruption,” Ojelabi Victor, spokesman of the group, said in a statement.
“It is high time we understood that corruption doesn’t come about only when money is misappropriated but also where fairness and openness are compromised.
“The GMD of NNPC claimed that he only needed to get the input and the approval from the president, who is also the substantive minister of petroleum resources. It got interesting when he went further to assert that ‘Mr. Buhari, as the president and minister of petroleum, was the chairman of the NNPC board and the approval he received from him was sufficient.
“What Mr Baru forgot to factor was that the position of the NNPC board’s chairman has been ceded to the minister of state for petroleum resources, Ibe Kachikwu!
“The act setting up the state-run oil firm empowers the president to delegate someone as the chairman of NNPC board, despite the fact that the president can still act in same capacity without invalidating the position of delegate.”
Ojelabi also alleged that the NNPC and some politicians were out to blackmail and denigrate Kachikwu, maintaining that that the minister had done nothing wrong and should be left alone.
“Looking at this holistically, where has Kachikwu gone wrong in his allegations? Let him be!” the statement read.
“Another issue raised by in the leaked memo was that of corruption and abuse of contracting processes. This was not included in the NNPC’s response to the minister.
“This, however, did not come as a surprise because the issue of insubordination addressed was secondary, the primary issue which borders on fraud is the contracting process.
“According to the NNPC handbook on award and execution of contracts, the organisation must be open, economical and transparent in accordance with the provisions of the law and without regard for self-interest.
“By reviewing what the minister alleged, he specifically pointed out that ‘$26billion was awarded without due process’. If Baru’s as NNPC GMD has done no wrong, why was this part and that of personnel appointments omitted in his response?”
The senate has set up a panel to probe Kachikwu’s allegations.