There are indications that the presidency has initiated moves to avert the indictment of the GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, by the Senate ad hoc committee charged with investigating him for awarding multi-billion contracts without approval.
The 9-man committee chaired by Senator Aliyu Wamakko, is charged with investigating Baru over the allegations raised against him in a letter by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.
The allegations included insubordination and keeping the NNPC board chaired by Kachikwu in the dark in the award of contracts and promotion of senior executives of NNPC.
However, Baru in his response to the letter, which was leaked, dismissed the allegations, saying he did not need the approval of the board, as all contracts went through the NNPC Tenders Board, got No Objections from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), and were approved by the president.
But he failed to address the issue of his appointment of senior executives of NNPC without obtaining the approval of the corporation’s board.
The ensuing furore over Kachikwu’s memo prompted the Senate to mandate an inquiry into the issues he raised in the memo and to carry out a holistic investigation into the finances of the NNPC.
The Senate ad hoc committee was supposed to hold its inaugural meeting on Tuesday but the meeting was postponed to next Tuesday without any reasons proffered for the postponement.
A highly placed source, however, informed ThisDay that Buhari met with Wamakko Tuesday evening to lobby the committee to give Baru a soft landing.
The source explained that the president was prevailed upon to personally meet with Wamakko instead of delegating the assignment to any of his aides.
“Wamakko has a reputation for being firm and straightforward. Obviously, many senators were certain of his handling of the probe with him at the helm of the committee, because he would say it as it is.
“That is why the president’s aides convinced him (Buhari) to personally meet with Wamakko to ensure that the message is clear. If not, he would have delegated someone like Abba Kyari (chief of staff), or even any of the party leaders,” the source said.
The source was emphatic that the motive behind the meeting was to ensure that Baru is not indicted by the committee and to prevent a recommendation for his removal from office.
We guess the right thing is for Buhari to be interested in the truth rather than trying to save Baru’s job.