Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has denied the reports that he approved contracts for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) clarifying that what he approved when President Muhammadu Buhari was away on medical vacation were financing loans and not contracts.
Senior special assistant to the vice president on media and publicity, Laolu Akande, had earlier said that the VP approved contracts for NNPC.
Akande said the contracts were approved after due diligence by the vice president when he acted as president recently.
He said his principal approved the recommendations for the contracts as part of necessary actions to deal with the backlog of unpaid cash calls and incentivise investments.
Akande said Osinbajo made the clarification in view of media enquiries that followed NNPC’s claim that the contracts were indeed approved by Osinbajo.
The VP’s aide tweeted: “In response to media inquiries on NNPC joint venture financing, VP Osinbajo, as Ag President approved recommendations after due diligence & adherence to established procedure.
“Action necessary to deal with huge backlog of unpaid cash calls which Buhari adm inherited and also to incentivise much needed fresh investments in the oil & gas sector”.
But refuting the statement made by his aide yesterday in Bonny Island where he flagged off the Bodo-Bonny Road in Rivers State, Osinbajo said he granted loans and not contracts.
He said, “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 authorisation which is what the law provides.
“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”.
Recall that minister Of State Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, had accused the Group Managing Director of NCPC, Maikanti Baru, of alleged insubordination, due process abuse and malfeasance, leading to the award of contracts worth over $25 billion.
In a memo to President Buhari dated August 30, 2017, Kachikwu attributed the slow growth in the oil and gas sector to illegal practices by the departments and agencies under his ministry, especially the NNPC headed by Baru.
But in his response, Baru described Kachikwu’s allegations as baseless and accused the minister of exaggerating and concocting figures to give vent to his claims, maintaining that due process was followed in the activities of the corporation.