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The Capital Exclusive: Why NNPC GMD, Maikanti Baru, Will Not Be Made Minister

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The Capital Exclusive: Why NNPC GMD, Maikanti Baru, Will Not Be Made Minister

The Capital Exclusive: Why NNPC GMD, Maikanti Baru, Will Not Be Made Minister
April 23
18:50 2019

…Abba Kyari May Become Minister of Petroleum

Yes, except for a last minute change of mind or a preternatural intervention, the chances of Dr Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, being appointed the substantive Minister of Petroleum in the next dispensation may have petered out.

The portfolio is currently held by President Muhammadu Buhari in continuation of a trend started by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who served as Minister of Petroleum and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources during his administration. The trend was discontinued by late President Umaru Yar’adua and his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. The ministry, understandably, is regarded as Nigeria’s juiciest for the holder and the ATM (Automated Teller Machine) of successive presidents.

Instructively, Obasanjo and Buhari are both former Heads of State who ruled by fiat. Whoever is appointed substantive minister holds the position in trust for the president but neither Obasanjo nor Buhari trusted anybody to do so for them.

Since his appointment as the boss of the NNPC, Baru made no pretension about the fact that he is a ‘Buharist’ through and through. Though he is statutorily supposed to report to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, Baru bypassed him on several occasions to get approvals from the president.

Indeed, since the appointment of Baru as Group MD of NNPC, where Kachikwu used to hold court alongside his ministerial position, the relationship between the two First Class brains had been frosty. This climaxed with the leak of a memo Kachikwu wrote to the President accusing his successor of among other things, insubordination and sharp practices, especially the unilateral award of a $25billion contract. Baru did not take it lightly as he fired back with the same venom until the presidency waded in.

Presidency sources say Buhari is ready to relinquish the Ministry of petroleum portfolio and is actually looking in the direction of Baru to replace him but current indices do not favour him. One of the sources said that without prejudice to his superb intellection and knowledge of the petroleum industry, Buhari does not see Baru as being the ideal candidate to run the ministry from June 2019 when he hopes to announce his new cabinet.

“He is not a strong-willed person and as such, is seen as overly accessible and pliable. The president also thinks that Baru would do better to remain in the NNPC reporting to somebody else other than him,” the source said. Another problem is that President Buhari reportedly wants a man in his own image; austere and incorruptible. However, Baru still has the spectre of the $25billion contracts haunting him.

Thus, privileged sources say the president may have narrowed down his choice of a substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources for his second term to Abba Kyari, his Chief of Staff. Powerful and erudite but self-effacing and guarded, Kyari is described by many prominent Nigerians as the force behind the president.

In spite of the power he wields in and outside the presidency, he has done well to remain virtually untainted and earned the trust of the president in the process. Kyari, who possesses a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law from the University of Cambridge, is reportedly poring over decades of documents and books on how to reposition the ministry when he takes over.

 

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