NNPC Scandal: GMD Baru fails to address two key issues in response to Kachikwu

Dr. Maikanti Baru
NNPC, Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru. [Photo credit: Benco News]

At the tail end of the first week of tension over alleged N9 trillion contract scandal at the NNPC, the Group Managing Director of the state-run oil firm finally broke his silence, dismissing all allegations of corruption as unfounded.

But Maikanti Baru, in a Monday morning statement, dodged key questions bordering on alleged insubordination as raised by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu.

The statement was issued on behalf of Mr. Baru as a response to Mr. Kachikwu’s August 30 memo to President Muhammadu Buhari over alleged corrupt practices, abuse of contracting process and insubordination by Mr. Baru.

Insubordination in personnel changes

Specifically, Mr. Kachikwu told Mr. Buhari that Mr. Baru effected personnel changes and without recourse to him, the NNPC board or even the board services committee.

“Mr. President, yesterday like many other Nigerians. I resumed work confronted by many publications of massive changes within NNPC.

“Like the previous reorganisations and reposting 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 of 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 statues of NNPC is meant to review these planned appointments and postings, was never briefed.

“Members of the Board learned of these appointments from the pages of social media and the press release of NNPC.

“At the minimum and like all other parastatals being supervised by me at the ministry have continued to do, and in compliance with the proper governance standards expected of a serious public institution, these executive actions by NNPC were supposed to benefit from mine and the board’s input prior to presentation to you.

“Indeed in anticipation of vacancies that would arise from retiring senior executives of NNPC, I wrote the GMD a letter requesting that we both have prior review of the proposed appointments. This was to enable me to present same to the board.

“I wrote to the GMD given previous happenstance of this nature. In addition, thereafter, I called the GMD to a private meeting where I discussed these issues, Needless to say, that, not only did he not give my letter the courtesy of reply, he proceeded to announce the appointments without consultation or Board concurrence.

“Mr. President, please note that there is a Board Services Committee whose function is to review potential appointments and terminations of senior staff prior to implementation. This committee was also not consulted,” Mr. Kachikwu told Mr. Buhari of the August 29 personnel changes made by Mr. Baru.

He also informed the president that the NNPC GMD had attempted to sideline him in making new appointments at the NNPC but was prevented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo when he was acting president. Mr. Buhari was away on sick leave in London from May 7 to August 19, leaving Mr. Osinbajo to act as president in line with the Constitution.

”I only need to add that previous attempts to rush through these appointments through a non-governance backdoor and present same to the acting president were met with a request that this be discussed with me. This was never done,” Mr. Kachikwu said.

Mr. Kachikwu also emphasised in his memo to Mr. Buhari that Mr. Baru’s alleged insubordination could hurt the performance of the state-run oil firm.

Consequently, the minister urged the president to ensure “joint presentation meetings between heads of parastatals and the Minister of State” in order to “encourage a culture of working together and implant discipline in the hierarchy.”

But Mr. Baru’s response Monday morning only touched on allegations of illegal contract awards — leaving out the issues of insubordination.

In justifying his decision to shun Mr. Kachikwu in awarding contracts, Mr. Baru said, as GMD of NNPC, he only needed to get input and approval from President Buhari, who’s also the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources.

Mr. Baru said Mr. Buhari, as the president and Minister of Petroleum, was the chairman of the NNPC board and the approval he received from him was sufficient. But Mr. Kachikwu reminded Mr. Buhari in his memo that the president made him the chairman of the NNPC board.

The NNPC Act allows the president to delegate someone as the chairman of NNPC board, but the president can concurrently exercise powers of the chairman of NNPC board while the appointment of the person he delegated is still in effect.

But he did not say if Mr. Buhari also approved of his decision to make up to 55 key personnel changes at the NNPC without Mr. Kachikwu’s input.

Ndu Ughamadu, spokesperson for the NNPC, told PREMIUM TIMES the issues of insubordination were secondary.

“The most critical is the one on contract,” Mr. Ughamadu said. We published the “the processes of awarding contract because that bordered on fraud.”

Mr. Ughamadu said the issues around insubordination would be addressed later.

Presidential spokespersons, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ request about whether Mr. Baru had presidential approval to ignore Mr. Kachikwu in making appointments.

INSUBORDINATION IN MEETING

Another issue that Mr. Baru avoided in his response was the claim that he was shunning meetings called by Mr. Kachikwu.

Mr. Kachikwu explained his experience in the hands of Mr. Baru as follows:

“The matter of collaborative meeting is another issue altogether.

“When I call for meetings, the GMD chooses which meetings he wishes to attend and those he chooses to send subordinate.

“He sends such subordinates without the courtesy of a call to explain his absence.

“The unattended meetings are in the majority. In all of 2017, I have been able only to get him to have one on one meetings with me about four to five times.

“At inception, I instituted a monthly parastatals review meeting with head of agencies and another with the all the senior management in all the parastatals.

“GMD objected to his senior staff coming to the joint senior management meetings. He argued that this was overreaching his territory.

“He was only comfortable with the Monthly all Heads of Agencies meetings which he has only attended a few times.

“I have had to carry on with the rest of the Ministry. Despite being Chairman of NNPC Board.

“I have tried to manage the bad perception created by GMD’s blatant insubordination and disrespectful attitude.

“Particularly I have worked hard to avoid being seen as pretty and meddlesome,” Mr. Kachikwu said.

The situation had created a “fear culture” at the NNPC, with officials of the oil firm distancing themselves from the Ministry of Petroleum for fear of being punished by Mr. Baru, Mr. Kachikwu said.

“The effect of the attitude of the GMD and the sidelining of the Board is that there is a fear culture in NNPC.

“The open administration I introduced, with your support in our first year of pushing reforms, has been completely eroded,” Mr. Kachikwu said.

Mr. Ughamadu declined to comment on this aspect to PREMIUM TIMES.

Industry experts warn that the feud could have riveting consequences on Nigeria’s oil sector, which is the country’s lifeline.

Bala Zaka, a petroleum engineer, said NNPC’s stock prices would have plunged significantly had it been a listed company.

“If NNPC was listed on the stocks exchange, its stocks would have crashed so much that it won’t be able to recover for many years,” Mr. Zaka told PREMIUM TIMES last week.

Mr. Zaka said Mr. Kachikwu’s revelations indicate that the NNPC, which had been dogged by corruption since its creation in 1977, had not changed even under Mr. Buhari.

“This further confirms that there has been no change in the NNPC since the days of Diezani [Alison-Madueke],” he said,

Mrs. Alison-Madueke has been accused of various acts of corruption while she held sway as the Minister of Petroleum Resources between 2010 and 2015.

Several properties linked to her have been forfeited to the federal government although she remains in the UK where she is also being investigated for money laundering.

Until his appointment as Minister of State for Petroleum Resources in 2015, Mr. Kachikwu was the Executive Vice Chairman and General Counsel of Exxon Mobil (Africa).

He had earlier served as the GMD of NNPC until July 2016.

A first class graduate of law from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and the Nigeria Law School, he also holds masters and doctorate degrees in law from the Harvard Law School.

He started his working career with the Nigerian/American Merchant Bank before moving on to Texaco Nigeria Limited from where he joined Exxon-Mobil.


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  • Overseas Petroleum Lawyers

    Premium Times Editor,

    Premium Times is wrong on point of law

    We think the analysis you presented impliedly here as likely justification of the criminal act
    of Maikanti Baru is wide of the mark. The crime at issue is not extenuated by Buhari also
    being the substantive Minister of Petroleum.

    That Mr. Baru presented illegal approvals
    of purported tenders without having jurisdiction to make a determination on $25 billion
    worth of contracts, does not somehow become legally sensible or acceptable simply
    because he handed those illegal papers to President Buhari as substantive Minister
    of Petroleum.

    You know why? One, Buhari has no right or power of ratification of the
    underlying illegality perpetrated by Mr. Maikanti Baru.

    Two, Muhamadu Buhari himself
    is not equivalent to the Board of NNPC. Therefore, President Buhari’s own illegality
    – done by signing Mr Baru’s illegal but purported tenders – is not the act of the Board
    of NNPC whose resolution is required to be reached by majority votes of members.

    • Emeka Edom

      What a brilliant commentary from a supposedly legal mind. Keep it up!

  • Bassey Frank

    Baru is under no obligation to respond to any question he chooses to ignore. NNPC belongs to them. Buhari knows what is going on. This is mere smokescreen. The whole matter will die down in a matter of days and life continues as usual. If Kachukwu becomes too controversial, EFCC will go after him.

    • Osakue

      So we have been deceived by APC. Haba PMB don’t destroy the trust Nigeria masses have for you o! 2019 is just by the corner O!

      • Emeka Edom

        By that 2019 election, Operation Within Dance 3 and Crocodile Smile 3 would unleashed on the south of Nigeria to protect central government’s official riggers and clamp down on the opposition. Mark my word!

  • forestgee

    What about the lopsided appointments? What is coming out confirmed my expectation that Baru had approvals from PMB! Deceit and lies everywhere…

    • Capo de Capi

      @forestgee:disqus

      I HAVE NOW COME TO THE CONCLUSION that the Group Managing Director of NNPC,
      Alhaji Maikanti Kacalla Baru, is a certificated illiterate. I hold this opinion on the fact
      reported that Alhaji Maikanti Baru takes the view that “…..the NNPC Board has no role
      in contracts approval process, as members were appointed by government for the
      purpose of approving NNPC’s work programmes, corporate plans and budgets”.

      Only a stark illiterate like Alhaji Maikanti Kacalla Baru can look at Section 2
      of the NNPC Act, which says THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF NNPC
      SHALL RUN THE AFFAIRS OF NNPC
      , and interpret that to mean
      that decisions on contracts to be done by NNPC are excluded from
      the meaning of the legal power to”….run the affairs of the NNPC”,
      as granted to the NNPC Board of Directors by the NNPC Act.

      • forestgee

        This government of CHANGE is in reverse gear.

      • Quency Olajide Oyegoke

        Can’t you just make your point without raining undeserved insults on another person’s? Only those lack good manners or lack proper upbringing behave this way.

        • Charles Chris

          What u just did, what is it called? Talking about someone’s upbringing.

        • chika

          Bros leave insult matters and address the point he raised…pathetic!

    • Osakue

      Baru respond is very clear that he got approval from Mr. President. When only certain people where only allowed to see Mr. President in London. Truth most be told. PMB is not been straight forward in this matter I seriously smell a rat. That PMB chief of staff that guy is my greatest suspect feeding PMB with lies

  • taiwo

    After all said and done, I’m so disappointed in our Mr integrity, PMB. He has consistently demonstrated that he his bias and hypocritical. May God help us out of poor leadership in high and low places.

    • AFRICANER

      Sai Alibaba and the 40 thieves!

      • Jon

        Is Sai baba a thief too?

  • Jon

    Southern Nigeria must pursue this avenue to seek freedom from Hausa/Fulani slave masters:

    Southern Nigeria knows 100% that Buhari and his Northern Nigeria cannot survive without Southern Nigeria. So, why can’t Southern Nigeria use that as a leverage to sound a note warning to the parasitic North to choose one of this: RESTRUCTURE or De-amalgamation. This restructuring thing needs be done real quick before Buhar, Baru and their parasitic North steal Southern oil revenue dry.

    • Ndidi

      Since last week (at least), I have been very sad for Niger Deltans because it became clear there is now a mad rushing scramble to steal/get hold of Niger Deltan oil money quickly since we are now in a Renewable Energy Era and world demand for crude oil will continue to diminish. Niger Deltans have suffered a greater destruction of their lands than NE has by Boko Haram and it is so wrong to by now not have begun the clean up of Niger Delta lands which will take 30 – 50 years!
      Restructuring where each Zone has Resource Control and self-determination, such that each LGA would be generating its own revenue is the only fair and just solution for Nigeria and will bring each Zone much needed progress in the way the citizens choose.

    • Emeka Edom

      A brutal hatred against one of the tribes would not allow the southern block to free themselves from the northern hegemony. However, he who holds the proverbial tortoise down, holds himself. Chikina!

  • AFRICAMAN

    So 9 trillion deal gone (2yrs national budget) under with mere excuses???????????

    • Ndidi

      It’s the mad scramble for Niger Deltan crude oil money now that the world is moving away from reliance on fossil fuel for energy (and nations prefer their own shale oil and combustible ice).
      Every honest Nigerian who wants justice, should be insisting on Restructuring where every Zone has Resource Control and self-determination such that each LGA would be generating its own internal revenue.

  • LadyRosely

    Shame!! Criminals

  • Jo Elue

    Shameless barawo

  • Kenny

    Shameless crooks! Abba Kyari’s gang. Very laughable that the rogue GMD would sideline a first class brain whose administrative acumen knows no bounds; a guy who piloted affairs of ExxonMobil in Africa. Between Kachikwu and Buhari who is technically and intellectually more grounded to make inputs? Barawo banza! !

  • absam777

    When will this Fulani born to rule mentality stop? Buhari is no longer the solution to Nigeria’s problems He is part of it

    • Abdussalami Yaro

      “When will this Fulani born to rule mentality stop?” Well, the answer is simple, WHEN THE COUNTRY DISINTEGRATE.

  • realist

    The underpinning factor of the whole imbroglio is Buhari partiality to governance. He deliberately fixed his kinsmen to positions as if Nigeria is a personal property. Those he appointed are conscious of this factor and they feel inclined to deliberately circumvent all norms and principles especially if that superior is of the endanger tribe. They are sure they would get a way with anything, so far they understand the body language of he who appointed them.

    • The_Voice

      You are right. It is called ‘state capture’.

  • Curtx Maccido

    Clearly irrelevant issues….what’s the board business in personnel changes and must GMD attend meetings with minister for state? Nonsense!…Kachickwu is simply looking for messy and controversial way out of his subsidy fraud with his brother. How can any sane GMD attend meetings with subsidy fraudster?…He should just resign and piss off!

  • Julius

    “But Maikanti Baru, in a Monday morning statement, dodged key questions bordering on alleged insubordination as raised by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu.”
    THhis is exactly my issue with this saga and he didn’t address it. He should and apologize to the minister if it is true. I happen to think that is true, knowing how they look down on the Southerners in all the ministries.The other issues about contracts will be thoroughly investigated as it should. By the way, Is it true that some of the contracts the minister listed were awarded 4-5 years ago before this administration ?

  • Prince Prince

    My own simple question is
    If Buhari knew he will make Kachukwu redundant as petroleum minister, why did he pull him out of Exxon Mobil(Africa) where he was earning s descent living as the Executive Vice Chairman and general counsel? Will he like it if his son or brother is treated that way?