Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) may have postponed its planned dinner last night with members of the National Assembly because of President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s planned dinner with the legislators at the same time, THISDAY has learnt.
It was gathered yesterday night in Abuja that the corporation had planned to hold a dinner with the legislators reportedly as part of its engagement with stakeholders, but was forced to shelve the dinner to a future date.
There were reports that the NNPC may have looked to use the dinner to gain favour from the legislators who are reportedly investigating its Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, following a memo from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to President Buhari, in which the minister accused the NNPC boss of awarding contracts to the tune of $25 billion without recourse to the governing board of the corporation.
But reliable sources in the corporation informed THISDAY that the dinner was in continuation of the stakeholder consultation, adding that the NNPC started this in March with editors of media houses and reporters.
The sources however noted that that of the legislatorsâ€™ was supposed to happen afterwards but was shifted because the National Assembly members had embarked on recession and thus requested that it be held in May.
The plan to hold it in May, they further stated, could not come through because Baru was bereaved, having lost his mother and sister, and so it was further shifted again to the Sallah period and then October, but yet it did not hold.
â€œWe have been having stakeholders engagements since March. We had with editors, followed by energy and National Assembly reporters. This was to be followed by engagement with members of the National Assembly but they said they were going on recess, and so, it was shifted to May but the GMD was bereaved and it could not hold.
â€œIt was shifted again to the Sallah period but the National Assembly members said it was not convenient for them, and so it was agreed that it should be within October. The dinner would have actually held today, but the president has a dinner with them today by 7pm, and ours has to be shifted again, and so this has been shifted three times.
â€œThere was no way the president would be holding a dinner with the National Assembly members and NNPC would be holding another dinner for them,â€ said one of the sources who preferred not be mentioned.