Abuja - The letter written by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu in which he accused the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru of gross insubordination may have elicited more confusion within the Presidency as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who had initially owned up, through his media aide Laolu Akande, to granting authorisation to the NNPC for two oil contracts worth N640 billion, has in a volte-face denied any fore knowledge of the contractual terms involving the NNPC. Of course, you know what the Joint Ventures are, with the lOCs, like Chevron, that had to procure. N. 123, Laws of the Federation, (updated to 2010), authorises the Corporation to borrow such sums as it may require in the exercise of its functions.
But it was observed in some media reports that the two contracts were awarded when the President was away from the country.
"Action necessary to deal with huge backlog of unpaid cash calls which Buhari administration inherited and also to incentivize much needed fresh investments in the oil & gas sector".
Akande said Osinbajo approved the recommendations for the contracts as part of necessary actions to deal with the backlog of unpaid cash calls and incentivise investments.
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"He is a honest leader, so nobody should accuse him of engaging in fraud".
Baru has earlier in the week responded to Kachikwu's allegations of lack of adherence to due process in the award of NNPC contracts.
Akande quoted Osinbajo as explaining that the approvals he granted to the NNPC while he was Acting President were for financing arrangements for the Joint Ventures between the corporation and the IOCs, and not approvals for contracts.
There have been speculations that the President gave approvals for the two contracts on his sick bed in London.
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But Baru's response, via an official statement from the NNPC, was that the minister's authorization was not required, and that presidential approval was obtained, raising some pertinent questions.
"Furthermore, subsection (4) provides that "Where any sum required aforesaid - a.is to be in currency other than Naira; and b.is to be borrowed by the Corporation otherwise than temporarily, the Corporation shall not borrow the sum without the prior approval of the President".
NNPC said Kachikwu was expressly consulted by the GMD and his recommendations were taken contrary to the assertion that he was never involved in the 2017/2018 contracting process for the crude oil.
The GMD said preliminary exploratory activities had indicated some signs of hydrocarbon in eastern Yobe of the Chad Basin, adding that once the corporation received security clearance, the 3D seismic data acquisition in the area would continue as scheduled.Geidam said his visit was informed by the commitment of President Buhari's government to increase Nigeria's oil reserves through the exploration of oil and gas in the Chad Basin, adding that the policy direction of the Federal Government was of interest to the state because the basin covers a large area including Yobe State.
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