Fair Weather Friends! How Lobbyists, Favour Seekers Scrambled for Maikantu Baru’s Attention During Sallah Celebrations


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If he could, Maikanti Kacalla Baru would disappear into thin air, like the early dew under the beams of the morning sun. The new Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), is currently unsettled by the flurry of attention he is getting as the new substantive boss of the NNPC. Baru, who was recently appointed as NNPC head honcho by President Muhammadu Buhari, suddenly became the bride and heartthrob of major stakeholders, lobbyists and favour seekers in the Nigerian oil industry. So intense is the attention being given Baru that he is secretly wishing he hadn’t been appointed the new NNPC boss. And the reason is not far-fetched: Baru could not rest throughout the Eid-el-Fitri celebrations and public holidays as he was constantly badgered by very annoying phone calls. His phone constantly buzzed to his chagrin; hence he could not enjoy a moment’s rest.

But unfortunately for favour seekers, Baru is a very modest man without a chip on his shoulder. No security, he drives his Toyota car by himself, unlike many top government officials. Until his appointment, Baru was the Group Executive Director, Exploration & Production of the corporation. Despite the pressure being mounted on him even before he commences real work in his new office, the new NNPC boss is expected to cleverly and firmly repel the overtures of his overnight admirers and desperate stakeholders seeking one favour or the other from him. If he intends to maintain a clean record all through his tenure, he will scorn the overtures of the usual elements afflicting the nation’s oil sector with sleaze, so argued pundits.

The storm seems over between President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Bola Tinubu. Ill-wind has deserted the midst of the two prominent leaders of Nigeria’s ruling party, like evil mist at the searing blaze of celestial light. Rabble-rousers and career gossips may hold their peace now, Buhari will woo Tinubu. Finally, Mr. President has decided to curry the favour of the two-time governor of Lagos State and national leader of APC by appointing his best friend, Pius Akinyelure, as a member of the newly constituted board of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Prior to Tinubu’s man, Pius’ appointment on to the board, mischief makers alleged that Tinubu felt betrayed and unhappy with President Buhari who allegedly ignored most of his suggestions and nominations into key public offices in the country.

President Buhari allegedly listened to the advice of aides and advisers who needed him to be at loggerheads with Tinubu due to their fear of the APC leader’s rising and very intimidating profile. However, Buhari is reportedly doing a cartwheel and reconsidering mending fences with Tinubu because he believes he would still need the APC boss by the time he vies for a second term in office; thus his recent appointment of Tinubu’s friend, Pius on to the NNPC board. Pius is the only Yoruba man on the newly constituted board; it would be recalled that Pius supported and donated generously to Buhari’s campaign and as a result, he was promised a very juicy portfolio when Buhari becomes President.

When it didn’t happen on time, he lost hope in Buhari’s government and ditched all hopes of enjoying compensation for his contributions to the success of the incumbent president’s electoral campaign. However, when news of his appointment got to him, he was visibly pleased as he had given up hope on President Buhari. Not with his shabby treatment and betrayal of his friend and political associate, Tinubu.

Their minds fan with the beauty of friendship as fire flames from red hot embers. Thus they will not stay quiet while their friend is strung up on the altar of vendetta and high powered politics, so argued friends and associates of oil magnate, Jide Omokore. They intend to stand by him through the fire and storm of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s inquisition of his life and dealings in the oil sector during the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. While it is tempting to commend them for their love and loyalty to their embattled friend, it needs be understood that they are not just standing by Omokore for the sake of doing so. It would be recalled that Omokore was instrumental to the entrepreneurial success of many of his friends and associates. He was reportedly generous to both his male and female friends.

So generous was he that he impacted every aspect of their lives positively with his astounding wealth. He rented apartments for some in highbrow areas and paid the bills. He bought houses for others. He also bought cars for many beneficiaries and set them up in business with very large start-up capital. This earned him the loyalty and love of most of his friends and associates as they lived in awe and appreciation of his unending generosity.
Even silver spoon children from superrich families were very close to him. They include Kola Abiola, Segun Awolowo, Karen Koshoni among others. They are all praying for the man who they all called “The Leader.”