Dr. Ibe Kachikwu
  •  Heavy Security at NNPC Towers

By Omololu Ogunmade and Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja over his letter on allegations of insubordination by the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru.

While Kachikwu was meeting with the president, Baru was also meeting with Osinbajo after which he entered into the office of the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.

After his meeting with Buhari which lasted for over one hour, Kachikwu kept mum and declined to entertain any question from journalists who had eagerly awaited his emergence from the meeting. He muttered “no comment” as he walked past the press gallery, accompanied by the president’s chief spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina.

THISDAY gathered that Adesina only went to keep Kachikwu company after the meeting, as only the president and Kachikwu were in the meeting.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and the president’s media aides were not part of the meeting, a situation which implies that the president wants to keep his decision over the matter close to his chest.

Details of the three meetings are shrouded in secrecy.

Kachikwu’s meeting with the president was the fallout of his leaked  letter to the President where he accused Baru of undermining his office. and brazenly flouting due process in the award of contract worth $25 billion without recourse to the Board of NNPC for input and review.

He said whereas he would have liked to discuss issues contained in the letter personally with the President, he was blocked by some unnamed persons in the Presidential Villa despite several attempts he made to see him.

In the letter, dated August 30, 2017, Kachikwu had alleged that Baru undermined his office by unilaterally making senior executive appointments without recourse to the Board of NNPC which he chairs as stipulated in the law governing the operations of NNPC. 

In the letter, titled: “Re: Matters of insubordination and lack of adherence to due process perpetuated by the GMD NNPC, Dr. Baru,” and signed by the minister, Kachikwu said whereas appointments made by NNPC ought to be subjected to review by the board constituted by the president, members only got to read about the appointments on the pages of newspapers.

“Mr. President, yesterday, like many other Nigerians, l resumed work confronted by many publications of massive changes within NNPC. Like the previous reorganisations and repostings done since Dr. Baru resumed as GMD, I was never given the opportunity before the announcements to discuss these appointments. This is so despite being Minister of State, Petroleum, and Chairman, NNPC Board.

“The Board of NNPC, which you appointed and, which has met every month since its inauguration and, which by the statutes of NNPC is meant to review these planned appointments and postings, was never briefed. Members at the Board learned of these appointments from the social media and the press release of NNPC,” he said in the letter.

Kachikwu who also accused the NNPC GMD of awarding contracts to the tune of $25 billion without observing due process, appealed to Buhari to promptly save NNPC from imminent collapse.

“That you save the office of the Minister of State from further humiliation and disrespect by compelling all parastatals to submit to oversight regulatory mandate and proper supervision which I am supposed to manage on your behalf.

“You kindly instruct the GMD to effectively leave NNPC to run as a proper institution and report along due process lines to the Board and that Your Excellency instructs that all reviews be done with the Minister of State prior to your decision.

“That to set the right examples, you approve that the recently announced reorganisation changes be suspended until the GMD, myself and the board have made relevant input to same. This will send a clear signal of process and transparency,” the letter read further.

Heavy Security at NNPC Towers

In a related development, apparently acting on a security tip-off that civil rights groups in the country may have planned to storm its corporate headquarters on Herbert Macaulay Way, Central Business District (CBD) Abuja, to protest recent developments at the corporation, the headquarters of the NNPC was yesterday fortified with heavy and unusual presence of police personnel and anti-riot vehicles.

THISDAY sources could not confirm the interests of the groups planning the protest, but stated that the NNPC which already has a very tight security system at its premises, had to take extra security measures to safeguard its operations and personnel in case the protest eventually happens.

NNPC’s Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, debunked the alleged intelligence report of a possible protest.

He explained when contacted to clarify the situation, that it was nothing unusual, and that the corporation as the National Oil Company of Nigeria was expected to be heavily fortified at all times with good security measures.

“This is a national oil corporation that generates the bulk of the country’s foreign exchange and total revenue. There is usually a heavy security here, but at times, it is on and off. Last week, we had a heavy police presence, just like we had last month and other periods.

“It is a routine issue here with the police and military presence, and if you look around, you can see that. As a national oil corporation, that is what is obtainable all over the world,” said Ughamadu.

Also, in a related development, Aiteo, a Nigerian-owned oil firm has announced its appointment of a new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to raise the bar of financial discipline in its operations.

A statement signed by the Senior Manager, Corporate Communications of Aiteo Group, Mr. Ndiana Matthew, and sent to THISDAY, stated that the new CFO, Mr. Bruce Burrows, would be expected to resume at the company in November 2017.

It said Bruce will bring into Aiteo, his wealth of experience in managing oil and gas, power, mining, manufacturing, consumer products, finance and public service portfolios in different parts of the world.

The statement added that Bruce previously held the CFO posts at Lekoil and Seven Energy respectively – both are oil and gas exploration and production companies with a focus on Nigeria and West Africa.

He also has 14 years’ experience as a finance director in JKX Oil Gas Plc, a London-listed exploration and production company with interests in Ukraine and Central/Eastern Europe, as well as Ernst & Young in both Wellington, New Zealand and London.

The statement quoted the Executive Vice Chairman of Aiteo Group, Benedict Peters, to have said about the appointment: “Financial discipline is the backbone of every successful company, and we are delighted to welcome Bruce Burrows to Aiteo.

“He brings unparalleled experience of working within the strictures of the global oil and gas market, and his knowledge will be invaluable as Aiteo continues to grow, both in Nigeria and internationally.”

Peters further said: “We are extremely proud of the work that we have done so far in building Aiteo into Nigeria’s leading indigenous oil company. We must now ensure that we have the right foundations in place to bring about Aiteo’s emergence as one of Africa’s most innovative, reliable and diverse oil and gas companies. Our appointment of Bruce underlines our continuing commitment to investing in the right people to deliver that vision.”