…wants allegations of NNPC contract scam probed
By Mike Abbah
The Anioma Media Professions (AMP), a group of senior members of Nigeria’s mass media establishment from the Delta North Senatorial District of Delta State, has decried what it described as surreptitious moves by some entrenched interests to rubbish the integrity of Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, and Chairman, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Board, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu.
The group in a statement signed by its publicity secretary, Ken Ugbechie, took swipe at the treatment being meted out to Kachikwu, a native of the region, by authorities of government concerning Kachikwu’s recent leaked memo to President Muhammadu Buhari, in respect of alleged infractions by the NNPC Group Managing Director, GMD, Dr. Maikanti Baru in the award of contracts amounting to $25 million and appointments of key personnel in the Corporation.
The AMP pointed out that the development could amount to tarnishing Kachikwu’s long-earned integrity and also downgrading the professionalism and brilliant contributions he brought to NNPC which provided the platform for the stability and increased oil revenue being harvested by Nigerian government today and largely responsible for the country’s recent exit from the worst recession in a quarter of a century.
It therefore expressed worry over what it termed a calculated attempt by some entrenched interests to rubbish Dr Kachikwu in his capacity as Minister of State for Petroleum, “who came into the Buhari-led government as a highly recommended technocrat for his outstanding record of integrity, intelligence, boldness and high standards of work ethics in the oil and gas sector, where he had risen to become a Vice-Chairman of Exxon Mobil Oil Company (Africa & Middle-East) operations”.
Part of the statement read: We “wish to express our worry over what we consider a calculated attempt by some entrenched interests to rubbish Dr Kachikwu’s long earned integrity, and downgrade the professionalism and brilliant contributions he brought to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which has created a historic channel for transparency and stability in the system – and helped in stabilising the nation’s economy.
“The leaked memo centered, among others, on $25 billion contracts which the Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Dr Maikanti Baru, allegedly awarded without going through due process, and some top-level appointments he made without the input of the Board Chairman, even when it was made known to him that it was a wrong action to take.
“We are particularly concerned over the suspicious role being played by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the whole saga by ‘dusting up’ a petition written against Mr Dumebi Kachikwu, the half-brother of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, to create the impression that Dr Kachikwu had integrity issues before the EFCC.
“The EFCC by its action deliberately wants to mislead unsuspecting members of the public by presenting Dr Ibe Kachikwu as one and the same person as Chief Dumebi Kachikwu, his half-brother. We also have it on good authority that some officials of EFCC are surreptitiously circulating and sponsoring damaging documents about Mr Dumebi Kachikwu to conventional media houses and online platforms, for publication.”
The group said it did not intend to hold brief for Dr Kachikwu in his personal or official capacity in public service, but felt compelled to issue the statement against what it sees as “a campaign of calumny, mischief and witch-hunt by vested interests against a man who by both local and international benchmarks is a symbol of openness, competence and integrity”.
Noting that it condemns graft and any form of corrupt practice among Nigerians irrespective of their status, especially those holding positions of responsibility on trust for the citizens, the AMP said, “We are particularly peeved by the action of EFCC which tried to dig up unrelated subject matters in an attempt to portray Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu in a bad name by shifting attention from the substantial issues that were raised in his leaked memo to Mr. President, his boss.
“We make bold to state here that the objective of leaking the memo was not to advance the whistle-blowing policy of the government, rather it was an attempt to blackmail the Minister of State and show the extent to which physical and administrative security in government has been compromised.
“From what we can deduce, Dr Kachikwu’s leaked memo did not in any way show traces of ill-will or disaffection towards the GMD of NNPC, neither did it indict him in the execution of his duties as the chief executive officer of the Corporation. Sadly, things have been deliberately twisted by the league of perennial jobbers in the corridors of power, who are ever-present to attack, kill and destroy high-flying technocrats/professionals in Public Service or other positions of influence.”
Noting that Kachikwu’s tenure has brought global respect for Nigeria especially from OPEC with his shuttle diplomacy in oil and gas and active and intelligent engagement with the relevant international publics, the group drew attention to the fact that “Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu came into office at a time of major conflict and instability in the Niger-Delta region and unstable global oil crisis, all of which were affecting the incoming Buhari-led government negatively, at the time Nigeria’s economy was slipping into recession.
The group condemned as “mischievous, misguided and counter-productive, all calls on Dr Ibe Kachikwu, to resign or be sacked, by President Buhari” and urged Kachikwu to remain focused and dedicated in his service to his fatherland and loyal to President Buhari “who appointed him on the strength of his integrity and globally-acknowledged competence”.
“We commend President Muhammadu Buhari for the confidence that he reposed in Dr Ibe Kachikwu, both as a technocrat and a Nigerian with high integrity. We urge the President to look at the issues raised in the memo, especially in the spirit of the anti-corruption ideology of his government, and ensure that Dr Kachikwu is not made the scapegoat for the costly price Nigerians have to pay for any anomaly in the system”, the group said.