Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Friday gave further insight into the Presidential approval it received from the Presidency while President Muhammadu Buhari was out of the country on medical vacation.
According to the corporation, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo only gave approval for joint venture financing, adding that it was the NNPC Tenders Board that actually approved contracts that were within its purview.
When contacted to tell who approved the contracts for NNPC while Buhari was out of the country, considering the fact that Osinbajo had stated that he never approved any contract for the oil firm, the corporation’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, told our correspondent that it was wrong to state that the then Acting President gave approval for contracts.
Ughamadu said, “The media house (not The PUNCH) that made the initial error didn’t read our response carefully. Two issues were raised in the response. One was that the NNPC Tenders Board under the provision of the Act that established it, gave approval for contracts. Secondly, we said there was a Presidential approval for financing of some joint venture projects.
“But the media house lumped everything under contracts. We made it clear that we got a Presidential approval for JV financing, which is for the corporation to go and source money. And this was what the Vice-President was referring to, which he gave approval for when he was Acting President.”
Asked to further explain if there was approval for contracts to be handled by the corporation, Ughamadu replied, “There was approval for contracts. Contracts’ approval by the NNPC Tenders Board has certain limits but yet within a framework and in line with the NNPC’s Act.
“The second aspect refers to JV funding of which we don’t own 100 per cent, but own some equity shares. So there was never a time that we said Osinbajo gave approval for 100 per cent NNPC contracts; we never said so. The contracts that got approval were the ones that fall under the purview of the NNPC Tenders Board. But to source for JV financing, you need Presidential approval and that was what Osinbajo gave.”
Osinbajo had on Thursday stated that he never approved any contract for the NNPC.
The vice-president, however, stated that what he approved for the oil firm when Buhari was away on medical vacation were financing loans and not contracts.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, the Vice-President made the clarification while answering reporters’ questions after the groundbreaking ceremony of the multi-billion naira Bonny-Bodo Road project, in Bonny, Rivers State.
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