The confusion characterising the award of contracts at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has taken absurd dimension as the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who had earlier admitted to have had foreknowledge of the deals now says he did not approve contracts but loans for the organisation.
His senior aide on media and publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, had stated in his twitter page, @akandeoji, that Osinbajo admitted granting approval to the NNPC for two oil contracts worth N640 billion in July while President Muhammadu Buhari was away on medical leave.
“In response to media inquiries on NNPC joint venture financing, VP Osinbajo, as acting president approved recommendation after due diligence. Action necessary to deal with huge backlog of unpaid cash calls which Buhari administration inherited and also to incentivise much needed fresh investments in the oil and gas sector,” he tweeted.
But Osinbajo later disowned Akande’s statement, saying the approvals he granted to the NNPC while he was acting president were for financing arrangements for the joint ventures between the corporation and International Oil Companies (IOCs) and not contracts.
Speaking in Rivers State where he laid the foundation for the Bodo-Bonny Road project in Bonny Island, the vice president maintained that the money he approved was specifically for financing joint ventures, not loans or contracts.
“These were financing loans. Of course, you know what the joint ventures are, with the lOCs like Chevron that have to procure.
“In some cases, NNPC and their joint venture partners have to secure loans and they needed authorisation to secure those loans while the president was away.
“The law actually provides for that authorisation, so I did grant all of those, in fact, there were two of them but those are presidential approvals but they are specifically for financing joint ventures and they are loans not contracts.
“So, 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,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister of state for petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu said his recent memo to President Buhari was not anchored on exposition of fraud in his ministry as largely held.
He explained that it had the thrust of proffering solutions to moving the oil and gas sector forward, stressing that he had unalloyed confidence in the president.
It would be recalled that he alleged in the memo entitled ‘Re: Matters of Insubordination and Lack of Adherence to Due Process Perpetuated by the GMD NNPC, Dr. Baru’ that the group managing director awarded $25 billion contract without following due process.
He had also insinuated in the letter that his office was being demeaned as neither himself nor the board of NNPC was privy to the $25 billion contract awards, before it was struck.
The said contracts cut across the crude term contracts- valued at over $10 billion; the DSDP contracts- valued at over $5 billion; the AKK pipeline contract- valued at approximately $3 billion; various financing allocation funding contracts with the NOCs – valued at over $3 billion and NPDC production service contracts also valued at over $3 billion–$4 billion which were never reviewed by or discussed with the board of NNPC.
Responding, the corporation stated that two presidential approvals were granted to the NNPC for contracts with Shell Nigeria and Chevron at the rate of $1 billion and $780 million.