Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has denied the allegations making the rounds that he expended huge resources chartering private jets.
Kachikwu, who was reacting to allegations that he and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefelie, chartered jets to attend the burial of Emefiele’s mother penultimate weekend in Agbor, Delta State, said he had not engaged the services of any private jet company since he assumed duty at the ministry.
The corporation explained that Kachikwu, who doubles as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, had cancelled existing contract with the jet company, Vistajets when he assumed office, and had saved the corporation considerable funds.
The NNPC, in a statement from its Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Garuba Deen Mohammad, yesterday in Abuja, stated that its books were open for anyone to look into and ascertain its claims against reports that its group managing director often uses chartered flights.
According to the corporation, Kachikwu’s preferred mode of travel had generally been by commercial airlines, except where it is absolutely necessary to use leased flights.
“The minister has in fact used his deep knowledge of the operations of the offshore companies to save money for the NNPC and the petroleum ministry by insisting that since the federal government, through the NNPC, contributes 60 per cent in the Joint Venture agreements it has entered into with international oil companies, then the NNPC is entitled to all facilities that are available as part of the operations of the Joint Venture agreement.
“Naturally, this includes the use of private jets where and when necessary which expenses are borne by the JV partners. It does not cost the NNPC a single naira to enjoy this facility,” the corporation said.
It further said: “It is necessary to add that since the grounding of the NNPC-owned private jet which has since been handed over to the presidential fleet as scrap, Kachikwu has resisted every pressure to procure and maintain another private jet for the NNPC. And even though it is a standard practice in the oil and gas industry, the minister has refused to retain the services of any private jet company.
“This is in keeping with the resolve of the current government to reduce cost and unnecessary expenditure.
“We deeply regret that we have to go this extra mile to correct the wrong impression needlessly created and sensationalised by the publication.
“The public should disregard the veiled efforts by some vested interests to distract the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government by attacking its principal officers.
“Such proxy attacks are unnecessary and unpatriotic. Once again we wish to remind Nigerians that the books of the NNPC are open to any member of the public that has followed the right channel to verify any such misleading report.”