A senior aide of Ibe Kachikwu, the oil minister, has described to Naijiant.com what led his boss to fire off the now-infamous memo to President Muhammadu Buhari, complaining about “insubordination” and disregard of due process by Maikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The NNPC is the corruption-ridden cash cow in Nigeria’s oil-soaked economy. Buhari is officially the minister for petroleum, with Kachikwu, a former Exxon-Mobil exec, as the minister of state. Both are meant to provide the oversight for the operations of the NNPC.
But Kachikwu’s right-hand man, who followed him to the oil ministry from Exxon-Mobil, said his boss was “marginalised” by senior “northern officials”, including Maikanti Baru, at the NNPC. The aide said of Kachikwu: “He didn’t know what was going on, he was not invited to meetings where decisions were made”. He added that the minister was just a “figurehead”.
The aide suggested that his boss should have resigned as it dawned on him that he was just a minister in name only. Kachikwu in his memo to the president in August alleged that Baru didn’t follow due process in awarding contracts worth $25bn. The minister’s aide estimated that about $13bn of that money was “shared” between Baru and some other powerful figures. He implied that the president would have got a share. As far as we know, Buhari has not taken any action in response to Kachikwu’s memo.
However, another NNPC source said that while Kachikwu was telling the truth about the extent of the corruption in the corporation, his “real problem” was that he wasn’t getting a sizable cut from the billions being stolen.