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A perspective on the Kachikwu/Baru NNPC imbroglio by Okunrin Ogun

Baru and Kachikwu

ONLY FOR THOSE WHO VALUE THE TRUTH (THE “KOKO” of the NNPC GMD vs MOS PETROLEUM SAGA).

If someone as low on the power ladder as me knew both Kachikwu and Baru were about to be fired, then I know BOTH PARTIES themselves know. Which brings me to WHY that memo to the President was leaked and WHERE the leak came from and WHY it was leaked.

Before we get to that point let’s examine some recent history. When President Buhari came to power in 2015 Mr. Baru was the most senior GED within the NNPC structure. It was he who made the initial recommendation to the president on the needed reforms that the government initiated.

Mr. President, however, chose to appoint Mr. Kachikwu a private sector guy (he is rumoured to have been recommended by TY Daniuma) and Kachikwu was given a dual role of not only the Minister of State (MOS) and Chairman of the NNPC board but also made NNPC GMD, given him unfettered powers.

Now the first thing Kachikwu did was to post Baru the most senior GED away from the NNPC to the Ministry as Technical Adviser Gas a more or less redundant position. For the whole year Baru was there he had no office. The joke was that Kachikwu’s people would see him loitering around the ministry and say “Oga wetin be dat your name again? Minister say make we find you office”.

On the reforms Baru initiated in the NNPC Kachikwu added two principal things: he renamed the GEDs as COOs and changed the reporting structure of the GGM NAPIMS and GGM NPDC who historically reported to the GED E & P who then reported to the GMD to report directly to him Kachikwu as GMD. Baru reverted the NAPIMS and NPDC structure back to status quo because it delayed their work having to report to GMD (whose desk was already full) and he re-Christened the GEDs as GED/COO when he came back as GMD.

While Baru was in the wilderness, Kachikwu was looming large. He appointed new GEDs now COOs and and bestrode the industry. But rumours started to fly about “business”. His brother who was a known wheeler-dealer in Abuja became the go-to guy and began to call shots. Nothing is hidden under the sun and when information began to filter to the villa even though perhaps not with enough proof the FG now felt it was unwise to create another “superman” like Dieziani who controlled everything in the industry, they chose to revert to status quo and divide both positions.

The Minister is the bigger post theoretically and Kachikwu got that. The GMD reports to the minister but in reality, GMD is where the “pot of soup” is. Any minister needs to be in a good relationship with his GMD otherwise he will be “empty” if you know what I mean. Well as fate will have it, it was the same Baru who was treated with disdain by Kachikwu that now got the GMD position by virtue of his seniority.

The truth, Baru and Kachikwu are barely on speaking terms. If Kachikwu needs anything from NNPC he goes through Rabiu GED E&P who was he (Kachikwu’s) appointee but that is a function of the personal relationship between both parties and the history of how he was treated. Rabiu himself needed to be careful so as not to offend the GMD his immediate boss while seeking to please the minister. The real struggle is about the resource, it always is.

Both have been firing memos to the presidency reporting each other from day one. This I understand has culminated in the decision that they would both go. Baru also is battling personal problems including severe health challenges. The announcement of the shake-up in the industry is expected to have happened before the independence holiday.

So no surprises that that memo leaked now, I am confident that memo leaked from the MOS office and it is a face-saving, pre-emptive action against a known outcome. So now for those who always seek the TRUTH they can now understand the WHY and HOW. As expected people will put all sorts of spin to the situation but this is the real situation.

Both parties will leave in the next few days, I will put a dollar on that and people are just saving face. The pot of soup in that industry is too large that even an angel will stain his white garment with oil if appointed which I suspect is why PMB retains the substantive Minister portfolio. In fact, there are no angels in our public service. Most screaming now will line up with an application for allocation if whoever is in power is their person.

Okunrin Ogun can be reached on his facebook page.

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