Aliyu Wamakko
  • PENGASSAN NNPC branch supports Baru

Chineme Okafor in Abuja and Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto

Chairman of the nine-man Ad hoc Committee set up by the Senate to investigate petition against Dr. Mainkanti Baru, the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation( NNPC), Senator Aliyu Wamakko, has promised to be fair and just in carrying out the assignment.

In a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Bashir Rabe Mani, Senator Wamakko pledged to work assiduously in the discharge of the assignment.

The lawmaker said the committee would carry out a holistic investigation into the activities of NNPC Trading Ltd and also investigate the petition against Baru sent to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu,

Kachikwu had accused Baru in the leaked petition, dated August 30, of failing to adhere to due process in the award of several multibillion dollar contracts and appointing senior executives of NNPC without his input or that of the NNPC board, which he chairs.

Following a motion moved by Senator Samuel Anyanwu at plenary last Wednesday, the Senate had constituted a nine-member ad-hoc committee headed by Senator Wamakko to probe allegations against NNPC Trading, and also mandated the committee to investigate the petition written by Kachikwu.

Since the petition leaked, there had been calls for a thorough investigation of the issues raised by the minister, including demands for the suspension of Baru pending the conclusion of the investigation.

But in a move that could further exacerbate the already tensed situation NNPC, and by imlication Nigeria’s oil industry, members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) – NNPC branch, yesterday took sides with the group managing director of the corporation, who had been accused by the minister of state for Petroleum Resources of not adhering to due process and breaching extant regulations at the NNPC.

The Group Executive Committee (GEC) of the branch’s PENGASSAN said in a statement that was signed by its Secretary, Comrade Sulaiman Sulaiman, in Abuja that the allegations raised by Kachikwu in the letter were false.

They rather accused the minister of superintending over a corporation they said was largely unstable when he was its GMD. The unions even alleged that Kachikwu attempted to sell the corporation’s four refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna, to his cronies at giveaway prices.

“Dr. Ibe Kachikwu was appointed as the NNPC’s chief executive to wide public acclaim in August, 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari. He has recorded several achievements as GMD which among others include the corporation’s re-organisation at the management level in a bid to increase efficiency through reduction in directorates, although they were later increased again.

“In a bid to provide employees with general updates on the corporation’s progress, launched a series of weekly podcasts which is sent to the over 13,000 members of staff. His closeness with the media was an advantage to NNPC as its major plights and predicaments were always on spotlight.

“On November 11, 2015, Kachikwu was named the minister of state petroleum resources by the president. There were promises and theoretical task and targets set by the then HMSP/GMD which were never realised before he was removed as GMD on the 4th of July 2016. Uncertainty and very low staff morale characterised the 11 months of the then GMD and industrial peace and harmony eluded the corporation during that period,” said the union in the statement.

The union further stated: “Attempts were made to hand over the nation’s refineries at give-away prices to cronies through the back doors using different concepts as against their complete rehabilitation policy of Buhari administration.

“Ibe Kachikwu was removed as the GMD of NNPC by President Muhammadu Buhari and replaced with an engineer per excellence and one of the most respected senior management staff of NNPC with a record of zero tolerance in corruption who has grown through the ladder and worked over the years in almost all sectors within NNPC in the person of Dr. Maikanti K. Baru on 4th of July, 2016.

“This was greeted with applause by oil and gas players and in particular all the staff of NNPC due to the known track record of the new GMD. Staff morale was boosted and productivity was enhanced with only the announcement of Dr Baru as the GMD of NNPC who is a known anti-corruption crusader like President Buhari.”

They noted that they had observed developments that followed Kachikwu’s letter and concluded that: “The allegations against NNPC top management are unsubstantiated, false and lacks all professional and simple logical reasoning. Several far reaching decisions have been painstakingly taken by the present top management of NNPC that has resulted in several achievements in the operations of NNPC within the last one year.”

“NNPC has enjoyed the best industrial atmosphere under the present top management of NNPC with a zero record of disharmony which is the first of its kind in the history of oil and gas in Nigeria.

“We are convinced that the recent re-organisation in NNPC is in good faith and in tandem with our call for allowing internal growth in the system through hardwork and positive appraisals. We shall continue to reject bringing in friends and cohorts into management positions in NNPC at the detriment of dedicated staff with all the requisite qualifications within the system,” they noted.

Continuing, the workers union said: “It is on record that for the first time in the history of NNPC, concrete and realistic efforts are being made to bring back our ailing refineries to full production. This is in keeping with President Buhari’s resolve to make the refineries work to full capacities and in conflict with the intention of few people in the corridors of power who are bent on selling our national assets to themselves. The present top management of NNPC should be commended for that giant stride.”

“We are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the timing of the leakage of the document in circulation was deliberate and meant to embarrass the federal government under President Buhari”, they added.