Normally a serious government should back its minister against the head of a parastatal under the minister’s watch, but not in Nigeria were governance and issues are tribalized.
Indications have emerged that President Muhammadu Buhari has betrayed Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu in his feud with the Group Managing Director (GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru.
A source at Aso Rock told CHECKPOINTCHARLEY that Mr. Buhari is in fact thinking of firing Kachikwu for “embarrassing” his government with his damning allegations of corruption.
Dr. Kachikwu had alleged that Baru awarded $25b contracts unilaterally, ran a bravado management and made appointments without consultations.
Kachikwu, was the man, as minister of petroluem, who helped Buhari to sanitize the mess that was left of the NNPC by previous governments and also helped to stop the vandalization of oil pipelines by Niger Delta militants in the early days of Buhari’s presidency.
Normally, President Buhari should have taken allegations coming from such a person seriously, but not when the accused is his kinsman and one who sits by his side at Jumaat prayers.
It has been revealed that Mr. Baru on Friday, the same day Buhari refused to meet Kachikwu, attended Jumaat prayers with the President. The media had believed that Kachikwu had met with Buhari. But sources have confided in Saharareporters that the president shunned the minister of state, who reportedly met with only the president’s State House Chief of Protocol.
CHECKPOINTCHARLEY also understands that the so-called cabal at the villa, led by Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and Buhari’s powerful cousin, Mamman Daura, are said to be solidly behind Maikanti Baru.
“It is the cabal that asked Baru to publicly reply Kachickwu’s leaked memo to the president,” the source said.
Mr. Baru yesterday dismissed the allegations of award of contracts without regard to due process as “unfounded” and “unfortunate” – describing the $25billion contract figure raised by Kachikwu as “humongous” because “no money was lost and no process has been breached”.
As a former chairman of the NNPC Anti-Corruption Committee, he would be the last person to breach the procurement process by disregarding extant laws and rules, the GMD said.
According to Baru, the NNPC Act and the Public Procurement Act vested procurement powers in the NNPC Tenders Board, the President and the Federal Executive Council (FEC), depending on the cost threshold.
The NNPC Board had no role whatsoever in the process, he added.
He said: “I know for those of you who are following what we are doing here, you know that there’s no money lost and no process has been breached.”
Dr. Kachikwu would learn his fate in the days ahead. And when that happens, he might realize that Nigeria is a dysfunctional state, where there is no place for men with integrity. And where personal interests take priority over national interests.