Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has denied approving contracts for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The Vice President said what he approved for corporation were two loans. Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, had earlier said that Osinbajo approved contracts for NNPC.
Akande, on his twitter handle @akandeoj, said the contracts were approved after due diligence by the Vice President when he acted as President during the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The presidential aide said the Vice President approved the recommendations for the contracts as part of necessary actions to deal with the backlog of unpaid cash calls and incentivize investments.
Akande, however, reversed himself, noting that what the Vice President did for the corporation was approval for two loans and not contracts. He said the clarification became necessary in view of media enquiries that followed NNPC’s claim that the contracts were indeed approved by Osinbajo.
“In response to media enquiries on NNPC joint venture financing, VP Osinbajo as acting President, approved recommendations after due diligence and adherence to established procedure.
“Action (is) necessary to deal with huge backlog of unpaid cash calls which Buhari administration inherited and also to incentivize much needed fresh investments in the oil and gas sector,” he twitted. Reacting to the statement on Tuesday in Bonny Island where he flagged off the Bodo-Bonny Road, Rivers State, Osinbajo himself said he granted loans and not contracts.
His words: “They were financing loans, joint venture loans that have been procured. So, in some cases, NNPC ventures have to secure loans and they need the authorization to secure those loans.
“While the President was away, I granted authorization which is what the law provides. “The law actually provides for that authorization, 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.
“These were financing loans. Of course, you know what the Joint Ventures are, with the IOCs, like Chevron, that had to procure. In some cases, NNPC and their Joint Venture partners have to secure loans and they need authorisation to secure those loans while the President was away.”
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, had accused Dr. Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director (GMD) of the NNPC, of awarding contracts worth $25 billion without due process. Kachikwu, in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, accused Baru of awarding “crude term contracts valued at over $10 billion, DSDP contracts valued over $5 billion and AKK pipeline contract valued approximately $3 billion.
“Others are various financing allocation funding contracts with the IOCs valued over $3 billion as well as various NPDC production service contracts valued at over $3 billion to $4 billion.”
But the NNPC dismissed the allegations as “baseless”, maintaining that it followed due process in awarding contracts. There were reports that Osinbajo approved the contracts.