Kachikwu-and-Baru

It does not pass the smell test that Maikanti Baru initiated contracts for services beyond his pay grade and went ahead to sit as the chairman of the Tenders Board where he approved all the contracts he proposed, without prior approval by the NNPC Board of Directors.


Ibe Kachikwu’s sequence of belittlements continued as he was not able to see President Buhari as earlier reported. Instead, the president’s aides handed him a litany of his sins and soon to be – a laundry list of his crimes. No one should be surprised. The minions in Buhari’s brigade are remorseless arsonists. They have no care about whatever they torch and reduce to ashes. Unfortunately for us, Buhari cannot control his men, they have him where it hurts.

Kachikwu is hardly a paragon of probity through recent years, even in Mobil. They knew before he was appointed and we know! Please lay that aside and let us face the contract issue frontally. Kachikwu can be prosecuted later, if he is found to have abused his office and funneled state funds to his cronies. Pulling this malfeasance stunt amidst the furore at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is cheap blackmail. We will not be taken on it.

In his response to Kachikwu’s allegations, Maikanti Baru, the group managing director of NNPC, exposed his schemes and dark fun against Kachikwu. Apparently buoyed by his own self-satisfaction, Maikanti Baru refuses to see through his own usurious disrespect and diminished understanding of public administration. His pretence to ignorance won no converts but his crookedness and addiction to the intoxicants of power is exhibited to us, with the protocols of insouciance. It is incestuous for the managing director of a private or public corporation to determine, plan and execute the operations of a corporation; and sit at an Internal Tenders Board meeting in which he is a chairman to approve his own proposals.

The NNPC has a board for a reason. The Board of Directors by the NNPC Act, is vested with the authority to run the “affairs” of the corporation. By law, the board has the power to decide the affairs of NNPC. This power was usurped and appropriated by Maikanti Baru, without contrition or guilt. What Baru did is called impunity. By assuming the powers of the NNPC Board, he violated the NNPC Act and made himself the one and only final decision-maker for the business and operational needs of the corporation. It does not pass the smell test that Maikanti Baru initiated contracts for services beyond his pay grade and went ahead to sit as the chairman of the Tenders Board where he approved all the contracts he proposed, without prior approval by the NNPC Board of Directors.

As they struggle to spin this issue, there are uncomfortable questions we will like answered. Who presented the contract proposals to the Federal Executive Council (FEC)? Only supervising ministers of a ministry, department or agency are allowed to submit proposals to the FEC. Baru as GMD is not a member of the current FEC. That leaves us with Kachikwu and Buhari. Kachikwu was sidelined. Buhari was on medical leave.

As NNPC GMD, Baru exploited the lacuna in the NNPC Act because Buhari is the minister for Petroleum. His actions are most lawless, it is driven by self-interest, a power grab that procedurally tainted, and fraudulent. The optics of having Baru say prayers with the president, while aides prevented Kachikwu from meeting with the president is another clear indication that Buhari cannot control his men. He is hostage to his clan and their communal interests. Anybody outside the clan can be rubbished and humiliated with official sanction.

Buhari cannot maintain his trademark studied silence in this case, else we conclude Baru is acting on his instructions and on his behalf. His acquiescence on many issues like this will go a long way to shape his legacy. As they struggle to spin this issue, there are uncomfortable questions we will like answered. Who presented the contract proposals to the Federal Executive Council (FEC)? Only supervising ministers of a ministry, department or agency are allowed to submit proposals to the FEC. Baru as GMD is not a member of the current FEC. That leaves us with Kachikwu and Buhari. Kachikwu was sidelined. Buhari was on medical leave. Who submitted the proposal? Or was the proposal confirmed without the approval of the FEC? Contracts approved by FEC are usually listed online, why are these still unlisted? Why is Buhari not in the know? Why did contracts with such huge sums in excess of our yearly budget escape the memory of everyone at the FEC? Are there minutes of the FEC meeting where these contracts were approved?

These are questions for President Buhari to answer. We elected him, we did not elect his minions. A man who rode to power on a integrity monotone cannot assume uncomfortable silence on issues that raises questions about his integrity and honesty. He should level with us even if he is too weak to rein in his co-presidents.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo

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