As the ego war between Oil Minister Ibe Kachikwu and NNPC Group Managing Director Maikanti Baru hots up, President Muhammadu Buhari has maintained a studied silence, even as embarrassing as the latest revelation of corruption in the corporation can be.
Kachikwu has revealed in the second leaked memo how Baru has been awarding contracting in the region of N9 trillion without following due process. The earlier leak was about the NNPC boss disregarding rules, and disrespecting the minister and the corporation’s board.
But the National Daily learnt from insiders that the power play os a long-standing crisis that dates back to Kachikwu’s appointment as minister cum NNPC boss.
Kachikwu was brought from the private sector by a northern heavyweight.
With the vantage position Buhari gave the minister then, a lot of other NNPC official, who were not on his clique, were sidelined. And Baru was a victim of this.
“The first thing Kachikwu did then was to post Baru, the most senior group executive director, from the NNPC to the ministry as technical adviser on gas, a more or less redundant position,” the source said.
“Baru was there without an office.”
The minister also changed the hierarchy of the NNPC, including the reporting structure so that those reporting to the GED before were made to be reporting to the GMD.
There are rumours that he favoured his own so much business became as usual.
Kachikwu’s brother in Abuja was also even mentioned as one of those calling the shots in the NNPC.
In June 2016 when Buhari made Kachikwu senior minister, Baru became GMD of the corporation. As the new helmsman, Baru reverted to the former reporting structure.
This marked a milestone in the struggle between the two who, sources said are not on speaking terms. So the memo on disrespect is understandable.
Theoretically, the minister is superior to the NNPC top position. But in terms of resources, the NNPC is the all on all.
“Any minister will want to be in the good book of the NNPC GMD otherwise he will be empty,” the source added.
Baru has yet to respond to any of these allegations, but the Senate Wednesday decided to look into them.
Buhari’s silence, too, might be loaded, many say. Especially looking at his tough stand on purging the oil sector of corruption.
All these leaks can only embarrass him.
And what might be on the cards for the warring duo is a sack.
Kachikwu, too, might have sensed that.
The memos he is leaking now were written in August. So dishing them out now, analysts believe, might be his way of saving face and gleaning sympathies from Nigerians who always see things from ethnic perspectives.