• Kachikwu accuses Baru of working against oil sector growth
• Says GMD starves petroleum ministry of funds for functions
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, has attributed the slow growth in the oil and gas sector to illegal practices by the departments and agencies under his ministry, especially the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) headed by the Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru.
In a petition, Kachikwu told President Muhammadu Buhari that the country’s petroleum industry would have recorded tremendous progress but for Baru’s actions.
Although the NNPC Group Spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu, simply said the corporation “cannot respond to a letter it has not read”, the development has confirmed the frosty relationship that has long existed between the two leaders of the nation’s hydrocarbon industry.
Confirming the petition yesterday in a statement, the Director of Press, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Idang Alibi, described it as a normal procedural correspondence by the minister to the president relating to developments in parastatals under his supervision.
The Guardian learnt that the leadership tussle has gone so bad that the ministry, which used to rely solely on the NNPC for its expenditure, has to now depend on the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) for its daily operations as well as travels and foreign expedition.
Besides, it was learnt that the NNPC GMD, confident of his superiority over his boss through appointments and redeployments, deliberately thwarts every move made by the minister to achieve the long-promised transformation of the corporation in line with international best practices.
Kachikwu, in his protest, accused Baru of refusing to recognise the board of the NNPC headed by him, which was appointed by the president, and does not seek its approval on appointments and postings within the corporation, as with the recent shakeup which saw the redeployment or sacking of 55 top management officials .
The minister, in a letter dated August 30, 2017 and titled “Re: Matter of insubordination and lack of adherence to due process perpetuated by the GMD of NNPC-Dr. Baru,” which was trending on the Internet yesterday, complained of suffering disrespect and humiliation from Baru in the last one year of assuming office.
The letter reads: “Mr. President, yesterday like many other Nigerians, I resumed work to be confronted by many publications of massive changes within NNPC. Like the previous reorganisations, and reposting done since Baru resumed as GMD, I was never given the opportunity before the announcement to discuss these appointments. This is so despite being Minister of State for 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 of the board learnt of these appointments from the pages of social media and the press release of NNPC.
“At a minimum and like all other parastatals being supervised by me at the ministry, I have continued to do, and in compliance with proper governance, standards expected at a multinational oil sector organisaton. I came to this job with the zeal to change the sector. Measurable progress has been made, and more would have been achieved but for the challenges I have listed above.
“It is in the spirit of service and absolute belief in your leadership and integrity that I have after one year of tolerating these disrespectful and humiliating conducts by the GMD, decided to bring these to your attention.”
According to Kachikwu, the sector is in a critical state where only innovative ideas can stop the alarming impact of the fall of oil prices on the national income.
He added that the innovations that Nigeria developed and started implementing in the downstream, upstream, policy generation, and Niger Delta security have 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.”
Justifying the petition, Alibi stated: “The attention of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has been drawn to a publication on a memo emanating from the HMSPR to the president.
“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.
“It is noteworthy that the president has been fully supportive of the efforts of the ministry to entrench good governance and accountability in the oil and gas sector.
“The Ministry of Petroleum Resources remains focused on achieving measurable progress in the implementation of the ongoing oil sector reforms in line with the mandate of the president.”