By Odunewu Segun
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC has debunked the claims by the House of Representatives Committee on Privatisation that it was planning to the sell Port Hacourt, Kaduna and Warri refineries.
An Executive Director with the NNPC, Anibor Kragba disclosed this during an interactive session on the matter by the committee on Wednesday in Abuja. The committee had accused the NNPC of allegedly planning to sell the refineries after engaging officials of the NNPC and the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, on the exercise and declared that NNPC violated the provisions of BPE Act Section 11 of 2009.
During the interactive session, members of the committee accused the NNPC of acting unilaterally by going ahead with the exercise without involving other stakeholders as contained in the Act. Exchange of words before making the declaration.
National Daily gathered the committee kicked against the fact that the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachickwu, who is also the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources sent the Group Executive Director, Anibor Kragba to represent him before the committee to explain the proposed sale.
Most members of the committee kicked against the arrangement, insisting that the Minister of State should appear personally at a later date to explain why the NNPC was planning to sell the refineries without following due process. The lawmakers said their action was based on past experience with the corporation when its chief executives failed to honour invitations extended to the organisation. However, after assurances from the corporation’s Group Executive Director that he had the mandate of the minister to represent him and was competent to handle the matter in question, he was allowed to represent Kachikwu.
Kragba told the committee that there was no plan to sell the refineries. His statement was corroborated by the Acting Director of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Vincent Akpotarie, who said the NNPC is only sourcing for core investors to invest in the refineries, since their rehabilitation was capital intensive.
The committee demanded to know who authorised the corporation to embark on such an exercise without the knowledge of the National Assembly and the BPE. Kragba, however, said he needed to clarify the information, stressing that he was just appointed.
This did not go down well with the lawmakers, who challenged him on his earlier claim that he was competent to handle the matter to their satisfaction. Kragba interjected, saying: “With due respect to this Honourable Committee, I was appointed into office by Mr. President, who believed in my competence.” Reps call off sitting This statement irked all the members, who went wild because of his choice of words considered to be derogatory on them and resolved to call off the sitting immediately.
Chairman of the committee, Ahmed Yerima, ruled that the NNPC should stop the exercise immediately for gross violation of the BPE Act. He also cautioned Kragba to be careful with his choice of words before the parliament.