Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) boss Dr. Maikanti Baru have been advised to stop their bitter row over the award of $25b contracts – one week after it all began.
The Presidency and the NNPC Board ordered a ceasefire, The Nation learnt yesterday.
As the row grew, some observers thought the minister would throw in the towel. But Dr Kachikwu is believed to have ruled out resignation from the cabinet because of his “deep respect for President Muhammadu Buhari, who he insisted is a clean leader”.
Kachikwu, who was said to have gone to the Presidential Villa with a letter of resignation last Friday, has shelved the move in the “larger interest of the nation”.
As part of the peace deal, there are moves to urge the Senate to have a “second opinion” on its decision to look at the disputed contracts.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday said he did not sign contracts worth N640billion while the President was on medical leave.
Some government officials and NNPC board members have met separately with Kachikwu and Baru on the need to “reconcile” and save the oil industry from unnecessary tension.
An NNPC board source said: “We are now trying to de-escalate the crisis of confidence between the Minister and the GMD. We do not want tension within the system again.
“Some of us have met with the two leaders in the oil industry on the need to reconcile and sustain the gains in the sector.
“This is why we do not want Kachikwu either sacked or dropped from the Federal Executive Council(FEC). The issues raised by both parties can be addressed without further problem.
“We are hopeful that the crisis is resolvable, going by the responses of the Minister and the GMD.”
A cabinet source also claimed that some ministers spoke with both parties to “arrest the North-South dimension” which the crisis was assuming.
The source said: “At least about 14 of us in the cabinet were so much touched and we decided to sue for peace. The way the Minister and the GMD embraced on Tuesday was an indication of the acceptance of our peace deal.
“We were concerned that the crisis was being turned away from the real substance to infantile assumptions as if any fraud was committed.
“At least, we have secured a commitment to ceasefire by both leaders, who are both internationally respected. In the last 72 hours, many interventions have occurred.
“The leader at the centre of it all is President Muhammadu Buhari who felt personally hurt and scandalised by the August 30 memo. The President was really very, very angry.
The source added: “It was not as if the President refused or decided to delay in responding to the Minister’s memo until it snowballed into a crisis.
“The truth is that Kachikwu did not route his memo through the normal official channel for fear of being hijacked or frustrated. He sent it through a presidential aide to ensure that the President got the memo.
“Kachikwu perfectly laid ambush for those denying people access to the President by beating them to their game. Even after the memo was received by Buhari, he took steps to address it by sending it to the GMD officially for his response.
As at press time, there were indications that Kachikwu might have abandoned his plan to quit the cabinet.
A source said: “As a matter of fact, Kachikwu had gone to the Villa last Friday with a letter of resignation but he shelved it because of his deep respect for President Muhammadu Buhari, who he insisted is a clean leader. He loves Buhari and the President also gave him much latitude like a son.”