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Kachikwu’s Endless Battle With Nigeria’s Oil Czars

By Samson Ekele

When President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Dr. Ibe Kachikwu immediately after assumption of office on May 29, 2015 as the Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer (GMD/CEO) of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), it bemused many Nigerians.

Those more dazed and disarmed by the decision were members of the cabal which has dubiously gripped the oil sector and troubled it for decades by ensuring that nothing works in the best interest of the generality of

The cabal which has survived many governments in the country erroneously believed President Buhari would also genuflect to their antics by appointing an NNPC overall boss based on their counsel, who would be amenable to their dictates. They were even more surprised when Buhari expressed his desire to also head the Petroleum ministry and to elevate Kachikwu to double as his deputy and NNPC boss. Their aspirations crashed before daybreak, as Nigerians applauded the choice of Mr. President in Kachikwu.

But to fight back, the cabal which comprises top politicians and businessmen with vested, but criminal interests in the running and control of the oil sector has never seized unleashing attacks on Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum.

The attacks manifest through surrogates or faceless groups who take solace in rushing to the public to fault or allege multifarious wrongdoings in the current management of the oil industry.

Even Dr. Ibe Kachikwu weighty credentials in academics and the oil industry which advertised his competence made little sense to his adversaries. But from his elementary school to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he studied law to the Nigerian Law School and subsequently, his LLM programme at Harvard University, Kachikwu carved a niche with distinctive first class performance, just like in his Doctoral degree programme.

His records of hard work and unblemished service in several oil companies abroad and in Nigeria were testimonies of his competence on the job. Kachikwu’s experience in the oil industry in policy- making positions included General Counsel/Legal Adviser, Texaco Nigeria and Texaco Overseas Petroleum Co (1984 -1994); General Counsel/Secretary, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (2001); Executive Director, ExxonMobil Group of Companies (2003).

The Minister of state has also
served as the Executive Vice Chairman/General Counsel, ExxonMobil

Companies in Nigeria and Oversight Counsel, ExxonMobil Companies in

Africa since 2009.
Yet, some corporate oil thieves in Nigeria stepped up pranks to

dismantle and deliberately frustrate his vision and mission in

re-engineering of Nigeria’s comatose oil sector. It gladdened the

hardened hearts of these unscrupulous elements more not to remember

that before Buhari and Kachikwu’s emergence on the managerial ladder

of the oil industry, Nigeria’s economy suffered stagnation.

The anomalies in the oil sector, where Nigeria derives its main

strength and sustains its foreign reserves defiled virtually all

remedial actions. No one is in doubt that revenues from the sale of

crude oil in billions of dollars could untraceably develop wings or

get missing; national revenue nosedived incredibly, and acute scarcity

of all petroleum products was the nightmare of Nigerians and could

rage for months intermittently and government of the day feigned

Furthermore, the cabal also frustrated the passage of the Petroleum

Industry Bill (PIB) designed to impose sanity in the operations of the

oil sector and also abused the oil subsidy regime through outright

embezzlement of funds. Pipeline vandalism and theft of crude oil on

high seas were not only celebrated acts, but reached alarming rates

and the culprits crawled to their safe havens freely. While Nigerians

wailed under this yoke, oil crooks who masterminded the blight in the

sector smiled to the banks.
But the scenario has changed with Buhari and Kachikwu as the helmsmen.

The Minister of State whose credentials attest to excellence in his

over 30 years’experience in the administration of the oil industry has

so far not only demonstrated determination to rescue the NNPC and

Nigeria’s oil sector, but he has proven within seven months that

resources from oil, which is the nation’s cash cow can be now

harnessed and deployed for the benefit of Nigerians.

It is on this premise that many have perceived the threatening

invitation of the Petroleum Minister, President Buhari and by

extension, his Minister of State, Kachikwu to appear before the House

of Representatives Ad hoc committee to explain sour SWAP deals more of

veiled attempts at blackmail than scouting for sanity in the oil

The fuss is about the controversial Refined Product Exchange Agreement

(SWAP) contracts consented by NNPC and the Pipelines Product Marketing

Company (PPMC), between 2011 and 2015. Under the deals, 445,000

barrels of crude were allocated to trading companies in exchange for

refined petroleum.
Rep Zakari Mohammed’s committee is rightly livid with anger that crude

oil worth over $24billion was involved in the deals, but two marketing

companies Duke Oil and Tranfigura still had questions to answer.

It followed PPMC’s disclosure that Ontario still had $98m balance

of refined products to deliver, while Aiteo which was sub-contracted

the another deal by Duke Oil is still keeping Nigeria’s $37m worth

of refined oil.
The twist in the tale is that the Chief executives of the two oil

companies have declined personal appearance before the committee,

preferring to send legal representatives. But why Zakari is more

interested in causing the appearance of President Buhari before a

House ad hoc committee in whatever guise to explain petroleum

ministry’s role in the deals and damned any caution that Buhari or

Kachikwu were not privy to the signed contracts casts doubts on the

motives of the investigation.
Exposing his mindset, he declared that “Let the minister come and tell

the committee that he knows nothing about the transactions because he

was not the minister at that time.“They should lead us to the minister

(ex-ministers) who have the right information.”

Zakari’s tantrums on Buhari or Kachikwu can hardly find justification

in the light of the facts of the case. If not acting a script or

political arm-twisting, the former Ministers of Petroleum who

masterminded and signed the deals are still alive and not out of reach

of the committee to invite for explanation.
To understand why the House is more interested in screaming at Buhari

or Kachikwu over such a simple matter is confounding. Could this be

a ploy to cast fears into Kachikwu and scar him from continuing with

the arduous task of reforming the rotten oil sector in Nigeria?

Nigerians believe he will not succeed, no matter how loud he bullies

Kachikwu, as they are solidly behind him. Let the House adhoc

committee summon the appropriate persons and stop playing to the

Ekele is a forensic analyst on Oil and Gas based in Port Harcourt.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Samson Ekele and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

By: K.OWARE - Hamburg