Maikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has suggested that President Muhammadu Buhari approved contracts worth $1.78 billion while away on his medical vacation in London.
The two contracts, worth $1 billion and $780 million each, were approved by on July 10 and July 31 respectively, Baru claimed in the NNPC October 9 response to Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu‘s accusations of insubordination against him. Kachikwu had said Baru had awarded contracts amounting to about $26 billion without his approval.
Baru in his letter claimed the contracts received presidential approval, a time when Buhari was away on medical vacation in London.
See the contracts:
1. NNPC/CNL JV Project Cheetah
Amount: $1.2bn | Date: 16/04/15 | Presidential Approval Date: 01/09/15 | Executed by: Dr. E. I. Kachikwu
2. NNPC/CNL JV Project Falcon
Amount: $780m | Date: 26/04/17 | Presidential Approval Date: 31/07/17 | Executed by: Dr. M. K. Baru
3. NNPC/SPDC JV Project Santolina
Amount: $1bn | Date: 26/04/17 | Presidential Approval Date: 10/07/17 | Executed by: Dr. M. K. Baru
Note: CNL stands for Chevron Nigeria Limited, SPDC for Shell Petroleum Development Company and JV for Joint Venture.
The first contract was executed by Kachikwu when he was still GMD of NNPC and signed at a time Buhari was in the country.
President Buhari in a letter, before leaving to receive treatment for an undisclosed ailment, had relinquished power to vice president Yemi Osinbajo, giving him the constitutional right to act as president.
Kachikwu, in his letter to the president, he had written about Baru meeting Osinbajo for the approval of personnel changes in the NNPC.
But Osinbajo had instructed Baru to return to Kachikwu, to get his input on and approval for the changes, suggesting that Osinbajo would not have given the approval for the contracts to be signed.
Premium Times reports that the personnel changes were not made until August 29, 10 days after president Buhari returned to the country.
Kachikwu’s letter to Buhari was written on August 30.
When contacted by Premium Times, Ndu Ughamadu, spokesperson for the NNPC, refused to confirm or deny if President Buhari approved the contracts.
“Presidential approval is presidential approval,” Ughamadu said.