There is confusion in the Presidency over the alleged approval of $25 billion contract by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, as the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has denied the report that he approved the contract.
Senior Special Assistant to the President, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, had earlier in his tweets, yesterday, claimed that Osinbajo confirmed approving the contracts.
But the vice president has denied confirming or approving any such NNPC contacts, clarifying that what he approved were loans.
His aide, Akande, had in a series of tweets on his twitter handle @akandeoj, yesterday, claimed that Osinbajo confirmed approving the contracts after due diligence when he acted as President recently.
He said Osinbajo approved the recommendations for the contracts as part of necessary actions to deal with backlog of unpaid cash calls and incentivize investments.
The presidential aide had said the clarification became necessary, in view of media enquiries that followed NNPC's claim that the contracts were, indeed, approved by Osinbajo.
The tweets stated: "In response to media inquiries on NNPC joint venture financing, VP Osinbajo, as Ag President approved recommendations after due diligence and adherence to established procedure, action necessary to deal with huge backlog of unpaid cash calls which Buhari administration inherited and also to incentivize much needed fresh investments in the oil & gas sector."
However, the Vice President in a swift reaction, denied approving any contract, saying what he approved for the NNPC were two loans.
In what appeared to be a U-turn, Akande in a statement said Osinbajo made the clarification in view of media enquiries that followed NNPC's claim that the contracts were indeed approved by him (Osinbajo).
Akande tweeted: "In response to media inquiries on NNPC joint venture financing, VP Osinbajo, as Ag President, approved recommendations after due diligence & adherence to established procedure.
The Vice President who was in Bonny Island where he flagged off the Bodo-Bonny Road, Rivers State, said he only granted loans and not contracts.
In a statement entitled, "NNPC: AG. Presidential approval were for financing arrangements, not contracts, says VP Osinbajo," Akande said the clarification was to correct his earlier tweet.
He said: "Approached by reporters after the ground-breaking multi-billion Naira historic Bonny-Bodo road project, in Bonny, Rivers State, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, explained specifically that the approvals he granted to the NNPC while he was Acting President were for financing arrangements for the Joint Ventures between the corporation and IOCs, and not approvals for contracts."
"These were financing loans. Of course, you know what the Joint Ventures are, with the lOCs, like Chevron, that had to procure. In some cases, NNPC and their Joint Venture partners have to secure loans and they need authorisation to secure those loans while the President was away.
"The law actually provides for those authorisations. So I did grant two of them and those were presidential approvals, but they are specifically for financing joint ventures and they are loans not contracts.
"Earlier today, I had tweeted on the same matter thus:
In response to media inquiries on the NNPC Joint Venture financing arrangements, VP Osinbajo, as Acting President, approved the recommendations after due diligence and adherence to established procedures. This was, of course, necessary to deal with huge backlog of unpaid cash calls which the Buhari administration inherited, and to incentivize much needed fresh investments in the oil and gas sector."
Recall that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had recently in a leaked letter he addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, accused the Group Managing Director, GMD, of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, of gross insubordination and taking unilateral decisions on award of contract without recourse to the NNPC board.
The Minister accused the GMD of approving a contract of $25 billion without following due process.
But Baru in his response denied allegation of not following due process in awarding contracts and even stated that he had not contravened any known law, describing the minister's allegations as baseless