X-raying The Power Tussle in the Petroleum Industry 

Dr Ibe Kachikwu the Minister of State in the Petroleum ministry is a First Class graduate of Law from UNN and had his LLM and PhD from Havard. He worked with Exxon Mobil as Head of their Operations in Africa before his appointment as GMD and later Minister.

Dr Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State, Petroleum and Dr Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director, NNPC

Dr Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State, Petroleum and Dr Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director, NNPC

Besides, Dr Maikanti Baru, the present GMD of the NNPC is also a First class graduate of Mechanical Engineering from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (ABU) and got his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Sussex University in the UK. He rose to the various ranks in his 30 years (or thereabout) in the NNPC to what he is today.

Dr Baru was the NNPC Anti-Corruption Boss from 2004 up to the time he was appointed as GMD. A very pious and straightforward man that his ‘Yes’ means ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ means ‘No’ (no double standard). Like Ibe Kachikwu, Dr Baru never lobbied to become GMD as some people close to him are saying. He was appointed Group Executive Director (GED) in the beginning of the Buhari administration.

However, Kachikwu as a human being like all of us saw Baru as a threat to his position as GMD. First of all, Baru was the most Senior GED and his record of not being corrupt will surely impress the President. You can accuse Baru of what you want but surely not Corruption.

And of course, there won’t be two Kings in a palace. Kachikwu started moves to send Baru out of the oil industry by recommending for his retirement to the President with some top NNPC staff. With no cogent reasons given the President turned the request down.

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That did not go down well with Kachikwu and he started the plan B. In the middle of all these, Buhari decided to appoint Kachikwu as the Minister while at the same time occupying the position of GMD.

 However, ask to choose between the two, he would surely prefer to remain as GMD. Because the Ministry is just the body while NNPC is the Soul as far as Oil and Gas industry is the concern.

In his plan B, Kachikwu tried to frustrate Baru by making him redundant. Stripped him of his position as GED technically and moved him out of the Core NNPC job by appointing him as his Personal adviser on Gas and moved him to Ministry.

This is a position that an officer, far below the rank of GED, supposes to be appointed to. But Baru never protested. He complied. Went to his office in the Ministry daily with little or no work to do.

And they started using media (especially online media) to release fake news that Baru was appointed as NNPC GMD, all in an effort to set him against the Presidency. While all these were happening, some prominent leaders from both the South and the North were busy lobbying for their candidates to be appointed as GMD.

Buhari was curiously looking for suitable person for the Job and saw the qualities he needs in Dr Baru. Kachikwu felt he lost the battle but still have another chance to strike one day. Prominent leaders that were lobbying for their candidates (including a highly placed emir in the North) took offence and draw a line between them and the President.

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In his effort to calm nerves down, immediately after his appointment, Dr Baru thanked Kachikwu and told the world he (Kachikwu) wad behind his appointment as GMD. But those who knew what happened know it wasn’t like that.

The last straw that broke the camel’s back was Baru’s recent appointments. As human beings when it comes to appointments like this, we often favour those we trust and loyal to us. And this appointment affected people that Kachikwu appointed when he was the GMD in the same reorganisation that demoted Baru from GED to an adviser.

Knowing fully what that means, Baru now decided to ignore the Minster. He (Kachikwu) felt humiliated and wrote a petition to the President calling for the reversal of the appointments.

Of course, Baru suffered and endured similar or worst humiliations from Kachikwu but never complained. Now the table has turned and Kachikwu cannot withstand the heat.

Whatever the case may be, two wrongs cannot make a right. Both Baru and Kachikwu cannot be always right or always wrong. The President has to call both of them to order. Because one of the weaknesses of his administration is Inter and Intra agencies rivalries. And it should not be allowed to continue.

But unlike what some agents of the division who have gotten a new voice are now saying, this issue is never about South/North or Muslim/Christian that they want us to believe. It is all about who gets what and how.

By Buhari Gambo Abubakar

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