The Senate has constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the content of a leaked letter by the minister of state for petroleum resources, Ibe Kachikwu, against the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru.
The nine-man committee headed by former Sokoto State governor, Aliyu Wammako, is also expected to investigate the policy introduced by Baru, for allegedly allocating almost all petroleum products to Duke Oil.
In a letter dated August 30, 2017, and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister had accused Baru of insubordination and illegal practices.
Specifically, he accused the NNPC GMD of effecting changes in personnel at the NNPC without recourse to the NNPC Board or the ministry.
This followed a motion moved on Wednesday, by the chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics Privileges and Public Petitions, Samuel Anyanwu. The lawmaker accused the NNPC GMD of large-scale corruption in his dealings with Duke Oil.
He pointed out that the company was being used as a conduit pipe for swindling the nation.
According to Anyanwu, the lack of transparency in favour of Duke Oil to lift products without payment, as against its competitors in the sector, has helped to stifle the growth of indigenous companies operating in the sector.
“Further aware that Duke Oil, compared to other major players in the sector, is still grappling with the basics of what it was registered to do, in spite of massive support from the NNPC, owing to large-scale corruption.
“Aware of the decision by the current GMD to allocate almost all products to Duke Oil, this is in addition to its automatic inclusion in the lifting of Crude Oil, Gas etc, which thus, made Duke Oil a money spinning outfit that is accountable only to the NNPC.
“Aware that Duke Oil remains the sole importer of AGO to PPMC and Retail, which it does through third party, since it cannot import by itself, this contributes in slowing the growth of our indigenous companies that are making giant strides in the sector.
“Aware that since NNPC owns NNPC Trading Limited and the refineries, they also shortlist companies that get allocation of products, lifting of crude oil and importation of products, thus giving undue advantage to the in-house company, even where it lacks the capacity and requisite requirements to do what it is doing today.
“Further aware that these have combined to make Duke Oil the highest money earner and at the same time, the highest money waster because of the massive corruption in the way and manner they transact business.
“Concerned that Duke Oil lacks the requisite credentials to trade internationally, it therefore, makes Duke Oil a giant commission agent only.
“Also concerned that the net effect of the above arrangement is that NNPC, and by extension, Nigeria earns less than otherwise it would have if the process is open and transparent, where products are sold directly to indigenous international oil traders,” he said.
Announcing the committee, Senate president, Bukola Saraki did not however, state a timeframe within which the committee would submit its report.
Saraki named other members of the ad-hoc committee to include the chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Tayo Alasoadura; his counterpart in Petroleum Downstream and Gas, Kabir Marafa, and Albert Bassey, respectively.
Others include: Sam Anyanwu, Ahmed Ogembe, Chukwuka Utazi, Rose Okoh, and Baba Kaka Garbai.
Earlier, moving an additional prayer, Marafa submitted that the ad-hoc committee should also investigate the allegation made against the GMD of NNPC by the minister, as contained in his letter to the President.
This, he explained, would avoid the issue of moving a substantive motion on the matter, adding that the Senate would be failing in its responsibilities if it overlooked the contents of the leaked document, and Sunny Ogbuoji seconded this.
Experts say the power tussle between the minister and NNPC boss could threaten reforms in the oil industry.
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja