Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President, in a statement on Sunday said that the $25billion (N9trillion) contract scandal raised by the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, against the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, does not exist.
According to Mr. Osinbajo, the NNPC only conducted a shortlisting process for crude oil lifting which did not involve financial transactions as insinuated by Kachikwu.
“There is no $25 billion missing,” Mr. Vice President’s stated in the statement signed by his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande.
“It is therefore wrong and misleading to refer to them as though they’re contracts involving the expenditure of NNPC funds, or public funds of any sort,” the Vice President added.
The $25billion NNPC contract scandal came to public notice following a leaked letter written by Dr. Kachikwu to President Muhammadu Buhari. The Minister after many failed attempts to secure an appointment to meet with President Buhari in person, decided to write Mr. President stating the activities of Dr. Baru at the NNPC.
Dr. Kachikwu in the letter told Buhari that Dr. Baru was disobedient to him (Kachikwu) who happens to be the Chairman of the NNPC Board. He also added that Baru awarded a contract worth $25billion (N9trillion) without approval of the NNPC Board.
On October 9, NNPC in its response to Kachikwu’s letter denied all allegations of sharp practices. The state-run oil giant said it only entered into loan arrangements for joint ventures with Shell Nigeria and Chevron in July.
Mr. Osinbajo on Friday acknowledged granting the presidential approvals for the loans but not contracts.
“I did grant two of them and those were presidential approvals, but they are specifically for financing joint ventures and they are loans not contracts,” Mr. Osinbajo.
Osinbajo through his spokesman noted that all the claims that all the claims bothering on contract improperly in Dr. Kachikwu’s letter to the president were wrong and misleading.
“When you look diligently at the referenced projects/transactions one by one, you will see, as NNPC has shown, that none of them was actually a procurement contract.
“Take both the Crude Term Contract and the Direct Sale, Direct Purchase (DSDP) agreements for instance, these are not procurement contracts involving the expenditure of public funds.
“Both transactions are simply a shortlisting process, in which prospective off-takers of crude oil and suppliers of petroleum are selected under agreed terms, and in accordance with due process.
“It is therefore wrong and misleading to refer to them as though they’re contracts involving the expenditure of NNPC funds, or public funds of any sort,” Mr. Akande said.
He suggested that the Minister’s decision to place a monetary value of $10billion and $5billion on “these contracts is an arbitrary act that completely distorts understanding of the situation.”
He therefore informed Nigerians that “whenever there is a monetary value on any consignment of crude oil lifted in this country by any firm, the proceeds go directly to the Federation Account and not to any company. In fact, the Buhari administration in the implementation of the TSA has closed down multiple NNPC accounts in order to promote transparency and probity.”
The Vice President’s spokesman further stated that even in compiling the shortlisting for the prospective off-takers of crude oil and suppliers of petroleum under agreed terms, “there were public placements of advert in the mass media seeking Expressions of Interest (EoI). Bids were publicly opened in the presence of NEITI, DPR, BPP, Civil Society groups and the press. In some cases even, these events were televised live.”
“For the sake of emphasis let me state clearly that both the Crude Term Contract and the Direct Sale and Direct Purchase agreements are not contracts for any procurement of goods, works or services, and therefore do not involve the use of public funds. Instead, they are simply a shortlisting of off-takers. And unlike what has been reported in the media so far, it is important to set the records straight that the list of approved off-takers does not carry any financial values but simply states the terms and conditions for the lifting and supply of petroleum products.”
He also noted that there is no $3billion to $4billion NPDC contract as stated in Dr. Kachikwu’s letter to Mr. President.