By Patience Danjuma
Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, has again reacted to allegations of corruption and insubordination raised against him by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibeh Kachikwu.
In his second response in two days, Baru said he did no wrong and repeated his argument that the NNPC board chaired by Kachikwu had no powers to regulate or approve contracts awarded by the state oil company.
Baru spoke on Monday when major unions in the oil and gas sector, PENGASSAN and NUPENG, paid the embattled Group Managing Director a solidarity visit.
He accused Kachikwu of bandying “humongous” contract figures to incite the public, and described the allegations of award of contracts without regard to due process as “unfounded and unfortunate”.
Baru said as a former chairman of the NNPC Anti-Corruption Committee, he would be the last person to breach the procurement process by disregarding extant laws and rules.
He said both the NNPC Act and Public Procurement Act vested procurement powers on the NNPC Tenders Board, the President and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) depending on the cost threshold, stressing that the NNPC Board had no role whatsoever in the process.
”I know for those of you who are following what we are doing here, you know that there’s no money lost and no process has been breached,” he told the visiting union leaders according to a statement issued by NNPC’s General Manager Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu.
”Our contracting process is perfect and we will continue to follow the process. The NNPC Board has no role, I repeat, has no role as far as the contracting process is concerned,” Baru said.
He said the crude term contract and the DSDP agreements were not contract as such but pre-qualification of off-takers of crude oil.
”The case of DSDP, is of those that will take crude and give us products in return.
”So there is no value to them. But humongous figures have been put forward mainly to incite the public, it is most unfortunate.”
The statement said the unions pledged support for the “transformation stride” of Baru.
The statement said the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and their members considered it appropriate to rally round Baru and the NNPC Management to pledge their support.
”The unions’ support for the GMD was based on his ability to walk his talk since assuming office last year,” Ughamadu quoted Francis Johnson, the national president of PENGASSAN as saying.
“The National body of PENGASSAN and all the NNPC in-house unions are here today to show our support for you.
“You have brought stability to the NNPC and we are happy today that staff morale is high. You were Chairman of NNPC Anti-Corruption Committee for over five years and that was what informed your appointment as GMD of NNPC.
“Today, all the bullets you are taking are on behalf of members of staff. We will continue to pray for you, God will continue to guide and shield you.”
Ughamadu said the union leader called on Nigerians to be cautious of their comments on the controversy, adding that any wrong information was capable of discouraging investors from the oil and gas industry.
He said the NNPC Group Chairman of PENGASSAN, Sale Abdullahi, who also spoke during the solidarity visit disclosed that part of the unions’ concern had to do with the need to protect not only the GMD but the NNPC as an institution.
”Baru had streamlined the processes and procedures in the Corporation leading to the full restructuring which was beginning to yield positive results.
”Today, the GMD and NNPC Management receive inputs from staff and this gesture by Dr Baru has given members of staff a sense of belonging.
”Today, our inputs are being implemented and we are highly motivated.”
Other union leaders who were at the meeting to lend support were the Group Chairman of NNPC NUPENG, Udofia Benjamin, and Chairman of NNPC Corporate Headquarters Chapter of PENGASSAN, Mathew Duru.
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