The recent clash between the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and Group Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru has its roots in some of the actions taken by Kachikwu during his brief tenure as the helmsman of the oil corporation.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that upon his assumption of office as Group Managing Director of NNPC, Kachikwu had embarked on a massive re-organisation which saw many top executives of the organisation redeployed from the corporate headquarters in Abuja to NNPC subsidiaries. These executives, which included Baru, were not only displaced from their comfort zones but were placed under intense pressure to take full responsibility for these subsidiaries in terms of revenue generation and remittances.
A source familiar with the power play in NNPC told Sunday Telegraph that Kachikwu’s sweeping reforms angered not a few persons particularly those who had positioned themselves on the succession plan of the corporation and saw their redeployment as an unnecessary derailment of their careers.
During his tenure as GMD, NNPC, Kachikwu consistently declared that the mandate given to him by President Muhammadu Buhari was to turn around the entire commercial processes and procedures in order to impact on the overall growth trajectory and operations of the corporation. He reduced the directorates in the NNPC from eight to four, thereby reshuffling the top management cadre, but the unions saw this as a prelude to mass retrenchment in the corporation.
He caused all Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) Joint Venture (JV) agreements and all other contracts between the NNPC and its various partners to be reviewed in line with emerging realities in the global oil and gas industry.
He pledged that under his watch, all revenue leakages in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the industry would be plugged to ensure that all crude oil proceeds due for the Federation Account were not lost. In response to the fears of the work pace, he consistently declared that his mandate in the corporation was not to embark on a mass retrenchment of the workforce but to put in place an efficient, transparent and profit-oriented processes.
However, when the complaints about his reforms became too loud, Buhari relieved him of the appointment and left Baru, one of those who were uncomfortable with Kachikwu’s reform policies ato take charge of the corporation. Sunday Telegraph also learnt that the prolonged absence of the President Buhari from the country during his medical vacation in London provided Baru an opportunity to extract his pound of flesh by sidelining Kachikwu in all the activities of the corporation.
Baru was said to have exploited fully the legal and technical loopholes by going directly to the President and substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources (Buhari) for all the approvals he needed to do his job, thus making Kachikwu redundant.
“During that period too, Kachikwu did not help matters because it was as if he and the Acting President (Osinbajo) were working together to undermine Baru because Baba was not in the country. Don’t you know that it was Baba’s return that saved Baru? I swear if Baba had not returned as some people were praying, a lot of things would have happened,” the source said.