…Accuses NNPC GMD of Illegalities, Insubordination
…Petroleum Ministry replies says letter was leaked to press
In what appears as a crack in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, two key officials of his government are currently at each other’s’ jugular over subterranean issues.
The two officials are the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu and Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru.The issues, which indicated personality clash, also bother on alleged insubordination and lack of synergy between the two government officials.
Consequently, the disagreements between them soon became public, as the imbroglio has since gone viral, leaving tongues wagging as to the consequences of the actions of these two key men. Kachikwu was said to have reported Baru to the President, urging him to take urgent actions on matters ranging from alleged illegal practices to insubordination.
Kachikwu said he found it pertinent to call the attention of the President to his misgivings because they are capable of hindering progress in the country’s petroleum sector or even reverse recorded strides.
He said: “Parastatals in the ministry and all CEOs of these parastatals must be aligned with the policy drive of the ministry to allow the sector register the growth that has eluded it for many years.“To do otherwise or to exempt any of the parastatals would be to emplace a stunted growth for the industry.” Kachikwu, while expressing his disappointment over being met with a brick wall in his attempts to meet with Buhari, said he wrote the August 30 letter to the President after “concerted efforts to have a one-on-one appointment with the President at the State House fell through.”
The letter, which emerged on online media on Tuesday, also went viral. It is not immediately clear how it made it to the public domain, but what was clear going by the tone of the letter, was that the minister said he suffered “disrespectful and humiliating conducts” from Baru.In a statement on TuesContinued from page 1 day, the Director of Press of Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Idang Alibi, explained that, “the communication under reference is a normal procedural correspondence by the Minister to the President relating to developments in parastatals under his supervision.
“It is most distressing to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources that a confidential communication to the President on the performance of one of its parastatals can be made public.“The focus of the communication was on improving efficiency and deepening transparency in the oil and gas sector for continued investor confidence,” Alibi said. On the other hand, Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, said he had not seen the letter; and would be available to comment on the issue after perusing the content of the letter.
In the letter, the junior minister also raised fundamental issues that deserved to be addressed. He said he has been on a race to stabilise and move the petroleum industry to the next phase, noting that timing is critical. Kachikwu argued that the sector was also in a critical state where only innovative ideas can stop the alarming impact of the fall of oil prices on the National Income, adding that the innovations that he and his team had developed and started implementing in the downstream, upstream, policy generation, and Niger Delta security had enabled the sector to stabilise slightly.
“However, truth is that given global challenge in this sector, we must aggressively pursue out of the box ideas on rejuvenating this sector, getting the best yield and increasing our earnings from oil and gas.
What this means is that parastatals in the Ministry and all CEOs of these parastatals must be aligned with the policy drive of the supervising Ministry to allow the sector register the growth that has eluded it for many years. To do otherwise or to exempt any of the parastatals would be to emplace a stunted growth for the industry,” he averred. To this end, Kachikwu appealed to Buhari to move in and save the NNPC and the oil industry from collapse arising from the nontransparent practices in the NNPC, and empower the NNPC to take the needed actions when needed.
His other prayers to Buhari include: “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 out 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. “That Your Excellency encourages joint presentation meetings between heads of Parastatals and the Minister of State to you so as to encourage a culture of working together and Implant discipline in the hierarchy.”
The conflict between the duo had been well concealed from the media for the most part, although it was first hinted more than a year ago. In September 2016, the media reported friction between Kachikwu and Baru, which centred around the administration’s Niger-Delta policy.While Kachikwu, a native of Delta State, urged peaceful resolution and increased economic development for the restive region; Baru was in favour of a military crackdown on criminal elements vandalising oil pipelines. The NNPC GMD said the economic sabotage by militants had cut deeply into the country’s revenues, a situation he said was unsustainable.
Kachikwu did not play up the Niger-Delta crisis in his latest letter to Buhari, focusing instead on the consequences of reckless disregard for extant regulations in the wake of disruptive technological advancements which could see fossil fuel become redundant in the years ahead.Consequently, the minister urged the president to order the NNPC GMD to make adjustments on five issues that range from strict deference to the NNPC Board of Directors, which Kachikwu chairs, to unfettered collaboration among all agencies in the petroleum sector.
Presidential spokespersons, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, did not respond to requests for comments.
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