Kachikwu/Baru Face-Off: Presidency Backs Baru
President Muhammadu Buhari is said to be weighing options on Dr Kachikwu’s fate, following his allegations against Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru.
Specifically, Kachikwu alleged that Baru
- awarded $25b contracts unilaterally;
- ran a bravado management; and
- made appointments without consultations.
It was learnt that having found Baru not guilty of corrupt practices, the Presidency gave the GMD the clearance to release a fact-sheet in the matter to the public.
Kachikwu is said to be consulting his associates, stakeholders and colleagues on his next move. He has been cautioned against any act capable of being seen as confrontational, according to a source, who pleaded not to be named because of “the sensitivity of the matter”.
Kachikwu’s associates, it was learnt, cited the travails of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources Prof. Tam David-West’s rough deals with the military administration of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida.
One of the alternatives being suggested by his friends is the possibility of voluntary exit from the cabinet “to preserve his integrity”. It was not clear last night the step Kachikwu would take after it was clear that the Presidency might have backed Baru.
The GMD of NNPC described the $25billion contract figure raised by Kachikwu as “humongous” because “no money was lost and no process has been breached.”
The President, The Nation learnt, felt scandalised by “unfounded allegations of corruption bordering on phantom $25billion contracts”.
The allegations allegedly attracted concerns from other nations and some oil producing countries.
President Buhari, who is said to have felt hurt, by the development, “refused to act on the spur of the moment because his image and the reputation of his administration were involved”.
A top government source said: “The Presidency directed the GMD of NNPC to provide facts and figures, which it got from Baru.
“Thereafter, the NNPC Act, the NNPC Handbook and Public Procurement Act were consulted on the responses of Baru to find out if infractions were committed by the corporation.
“Having been convinced that there were no infractions, the Presidency then directed NNPC to lay the cards on the table for Nigerians to see and judge.
“What was uppermost in the responses of the GMD was the fact that ‘there was no evidence of sharp practices, bribery, looting of funds and diversion of transaction cash’.
“The allegations of Kachikwu were rated as ‘wild, intentional and political in nature’ against the administration he is serving.”
It was learnt that the President met with Kachikwu last Friday to “be fair to the Minister and for record purposes”.
A Presidency source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The President has not spoken on the next action. No one knows his mindset.”
Yesterday’s statement by the NNPC, which was described as an “assault” on Kachikwu by some of his associates, fuelled minister’s thoughts on his Option B which he did not state.
Some of Kachikwu’s confidants have, however, cautioned against any “hasty” decision, given the travails of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Prof. Tam David-West, during the military regime of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida.
A highly-placed stakeholder said: “I am aware that the minister has been holding consultations and telling some vital players in the oil sector what transpired.
“Of importance to him is the allegation of alleged plot to sabotage the government of President Buhari with the leakage of the August 20 memo. He has maintained his innocence that he did not leak the letter.
“But it is tragic that no one believes Kachikwu’s story anymore in the Presidency.”