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The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, yesterday declined comments after emerging from a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, which lasted over one hour.
When State House Correspondents approached him and sought to know what transpired during his meeting with the President, following the controversy generated by his recent letter to the President, Kachikwu only responded: “No comment.”
Prodded further as he walked past via the alleyway leading to the exit, in the company of an unidentified aide and Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the minister simply maintained his silence.
The main issues and outcome of the meeting remained unknown at press time, although it may not be unconnected with his letter to the President regarding the alleged sidelining of the Board of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by its Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru.
Kachikwu arrived at the Presidential Villa about 11:34 am and proceeded straight to meet Buhari in the office.
The meeting came barely few days after Kachikwu was said to have written to the President, accusing Baru of sundry administrative misdemeanor, including the alleged fraudulent $25billion contract he said was capable of jeopardising the administration’s policies aimed at repositioning the petroleum sector.
In the letter dated August 30, which was leaked to the public, Kachikwu had complained to the President over what he considers as insubordination by the NNPC boss.
A copy of the letter trending on the social media indicates that the minister is also unhappy with the manner recent changes in the NNPC were handled and accused Baru of humiliating the Board.
Dated a day after the NNPC announced a massive shakeup, which affected 55 management staff, the minister said it was not the first time changes would be made without the Board’s input.
“It is in the spirit of service and absolute belief in your leadership and integrity that I have, after one year of tolerating these disrespectful and humiliating conducts by the GMD, decided to bring these to your attention,” the minister wrote.
He called on the President to intervene and “save the office of the Minister of State from further humiliation and disrespect by compelling all parastatals to submit to oversight regulatory mandate and proper supervision,” which he is supposed to manage on the President’s behalf.
He also called on the President to “save the NNPC and the oil industry from collapse arising from the above non-transparent practices and empower the Board” to do the needful.
Meanwhile, Baru was later sighted in the Presidential Villa, where he had gone to join Buhari and other Muslim faithful to participate in the Friday Juma’at prayer session in the mosque located in Aso Rock.