By Abdullahi M. Gulloma and Bode Olagoke Abuja–
Barely 72 hours after the row between the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu and Group Managing Director of Nigeria Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru broke out; the controversy has fi nally attracted the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is scheduled to meet the minister today.
A Presidency source hinted that “the meeting is to give a fi rsthand information to President Buhari on the controversy generated by the leaked memo.
And knowing the president for his frankness, you can be sure that he will say things as they are.
So, barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will certainly meet with the minister.
” Asked why Buhari did not also summon Baru, our source said, “that is his sole decision and I can’t tell why.
” In a strongly worded memo leaked to the media, Kachikwu accused the NNPC boss of insubordination and, therefore, requested President Buhari to act fast in order not to hinder the expected progress in the nation’s petroleum sector.
Th e minister said he embraced the memo option following his inability to have an audience with the president on the issue.
Th e memo reads in part: “Mr. President, yesterday, like many other Nigerians, l resumed work confronted by many publications of massive changes within NNPC.
Like the previous reorganisations and repostings done since Dr. Baru resumed as GMD, I was never given the opportunity before the announcements to discuss these appointments.
Th is is so despite being Minister of State, Petroleum, and Chairman, NNPC Board.
“Th e Board of NNPC, which you appointed and, which has met every month since its inauguration and, which by the statutes of NNPC is meant to review these planned appointments and postings, was never briefed.
Members at the Board learned of these appointments from the social media and the press release of NNPC.
” PDP slams Buhari’s anti-graft war Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed outrage at “the loud silence of President Buhari on the humongous corruption scandal” rocking the NNPC and therefore called for Baru’s sack.
Th e party said the alleged scandal involving “two of the president’s henchmen”, shows the bias in Buhari’s anticorruption war. In a statement issued, yesterday by its spokesperson, Dayo Adeyeye, PDP said it expected the president to have reacted and also prove himself as a corruption fi ghter by allowing one of his own to be investigated.
Th e party, however, lauded the Senate for indicating interest in the case and setting up a committee to investigate the allegations levelled against the NNPC GMD by the minister.
Adeyeye said: “As a political party, we expect that the President, who prides himself as an indefatigable corruption fi ghter, would for once try to live above board, by genuinely allowing one of his own, accused of corruption, get properly investigated and prosecuted as a show of his impartiality in the war against corruption.
“He should do this to correct the open impression Nigerians have about his so-called anticorruption war; that it’s just a tool of persecution of perceived enemies.
“We view the allegations levelled against Baru by Kachikwu as too grave to be swept under the carpet and
we insist that the NNPC GMD must be treated like an accused who should not have the opportunity to infl uence investigation into his alleged misdeeds.
“In this light, we demand an immediate suspension of the NNPC GMD so that proper investigation can be carried out by the relevant anti-corruption agencies.
“Ordinarily if there was sincerity in the anti-corruption war, President Muhammadu Buhari should not have waited for any prompting before he takes a decisive action on this matter.
” “Nigerians can now see the hypocrisy in the so-called anticorruption fi ght.
We may as well say that the privileged class of APC members enjoys total immunity from the anticorruption campaign.
“Tired of this double-faced corruptions fi ght and cover ups, we demand an immediate commencement of investigation into this latest exposed sleaze by another of President Buhari’s men.
We have been saying this for months that the looting of the nation’s resources under this administration is record setting in the history of this nation and we are being proven right on daily basis by the little revelations that are being made by even those working under the administration,” the statement added.
SERAP In a similar reaction, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a civil society group, also urged President Buhari to probe Baru if the allegations of corruption were established against him.
Ahead of the probe, the group asked Buhari to suspend the NNPC GMD from offi ce so as to reinforce public confi dence in the anti-corruption war.
SERAP made the call yesterday in an open letter signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.
It urged Buhari to “urgently refer the allegations of corruption and abuse of offi ce against Baru to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Off ences Commission (ICPC) for investigation.
” It also urged the president to “suspend Baru pending the referral to the EFCC and ICPC, and the outcome of any investigation by the anticorruption agencies in order not to create the impression that your government is treating Mr. Baru as a sacred cow.
” It said: “We urge you not to allow the allegations against Mr. Baru go the way of past inconclusive investigations of allegations of massive corruption within the NNPC.
” APC mum And amidst all of this, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) has declined commenting on the controversy But when contacted for comment on the development, yesterday in Abuja, APC National Publicity Secretary Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, refused to speak on behalf of the party on the corruption allegation.
Abdullahi simply said, “we can’t comment on that now. In fact wwe have no comment on it.