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Buhari Under Pressure Over $25b NNPC Deals, Others

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  • Buhari Under Pressure Over $25b NNPC Deals, Others

President Muhammadu Buhari was under pressure yesterday to get to the bottom of the $25 billion contracts row and other matters at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Minister of State for Petroleum Ibe Kachikwu, in a letter to the President, alleged that NNPC Group Managing Director (GMD) Maikanti Baru awarded $25b contracts unilaterally ran a ‘bravado management’, sidelining the board and the minister; and made key appointments without consultations.

The President was scheduled to meet Dr. Kachikwu yesterday, but the meeting was put off. “It is rescheduled for today”, a source said.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) are pushing for Baru’s probe. He is yet to speak on the allegations.

The popular questions being asked on the matter are:

Will Buhari force a review of the $25b contracts?

Will the President ask Baru to step down pending an investigation into the allegations?

Will the recent reorganisation and appointments made by Baru stand?

Who are the officials blocking Kachikwu from seeing Buhari?

NLC President Ayuba Wabba, in an interview, said the issues raised by the minister must be verified.

He said: “The issue is under some investigation and I think there should be an opportunity to interrogate the process and at the end of the day, let us know the veracity and facts of the issue. We have made this issue quite clear and loud that part of our challenge is how we are able to imbibe the process of good governance, transparency and accountability.

“Some of the issues bother on this critical idea of ensuring that there is good governance in place. Our hope is that this issue will be thoroughly investigated and concluded at the end of the day. Let us hear what the issues are as well as the fact of the matter. Once we get the facts, we will then be able to make a conclusion.”

ANEEJ Executive Director Rev. David Ugolor, in a statement in Abuja, applauded the Senate for launching a probe into Kachikwu’s allegations.

Ugolor said: “Since the Senate has waded into the matter, we suggest that Mr. President as well must invite the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, NEITI, to carry out a comprehensive and forensic audit of the allegations.

“Among statutory functions of the NEITI include the regulation of matters related to due process in the award of contracts in the extractive sector of the Nigerian sector.

”We believe that the inconsistencies being thrown up by the startling revelations from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources include some of the issues which the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill seeks to address and redress.”

SERAP said Buhari must use his “good offices and leadership position to urgently refer the allegations of corruption and abuse of office against Mr Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for investigation, and if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, for him to face prosecution”.

The organisation urged Buhari to “suspend Mr Baru, pending the referral to the EFCC and ICPC, and the outcome of any investigation by the anti-corruption agencies in order not to create the impression that your government is treating Mr Baru as a sacred cow. We urge you not to allow the allegations against Mr Baru go the way of past inconclusive investigations of allegations of massive corruption within the NNPC”.

NEITI Technical Adviser Dr. Dauda Garuba urged the President to wade into the crisis because $25 billion is too huge an amount to consummate its contract without due process.

He said: “Whichever way one looks at it, N25 billion is too huge an amount to build contracts around without due process. We are supposed to be a country guided by rules and procedures. We must make Nigeria work.”

Garuba said that if it is established that there are infractions as alleged by the Minister of States for Petroleum Resources, the necessary sanctions must be deployed.

He insisted that Mr. President must demonstrate that he meant business when he promised Nigerians to reform the oil sector.

He said: “I must say that it is unfortunate that the Nigeria public is being unenviably treated to unpleasant developments in the oil sector. If you ask me, this is coming at a wrong time in our history. Just when we are expecting a reform of the sector so that it can deliver the country out of the wounds, we are having to deal with this.”

The PDP called for Baru’s suspension. The party warned the President against shielding Baru and others involved in the alleged scam.

The party urged the President to treat Baru and others involved in the scandal the same way he treated the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and many others involved in the $2 billion arms purchase scandal perpetrated during the last administration.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye urged Buhari to live above board by instituting proper investigation into the scam.

“As a political party, we expect that the President, who prides himself as an indefatigable corruption fighter, would for once try to live above board, by genuinely allowing one of his own, accused of corruption, get properly investigated and prosecuted as a show of his impartiality in the war against corruption.

“He should do this to correct the open impression Nigerians have about his so called anti-corruption war; that it’s just a tool of persecution of perceived enemies”, Adeyeye said.

The PDP spokesman added: “We view the allegations levelled against Baru by Kachikwu as too grave to be swept under the carpet and we insist that the NNPC GMD must be treated like an accused who should not have the opportunity to influence investigation into his alleged misdeeds.

“In this light, we demand an immediate suspension of the NNPC GMD so that proper investigation can be carried out by the relevant anti-corruption agencies.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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President Tinubu to Inaugurate Newly Paved Roads to Apapa, Tin Can Ports

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Bola Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu is set to inaugurate the newly constructed paved roads leading to the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos on Saturday.

This development is anticipated to bring significant relief to port users and operators who have endured years of hardship due to the previously dilapidated roads and severe traffic congestion in the area.

The commissioning of these roads marks a major milestone in the government’s efforts to improve infrastructure and boost economic activities around the nation’s busiest ports.

The newly paved roads are expected to enhance the flow of goods and services, reduce operational costs for businesses, and alleviate the chronic traffic bottlenecks that have plagued the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas.

President Tinubu, who is scheduled to arrive in Lagos on Saturday morning, will perform the inauguration as his first assignment of the day.

The ceremony signifies a commitment to addressing the infrastructural challenges that have long hindered the efficiency of Nigeria’s maritime sector.

Mohammed Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), highlighted the importance of this project earlier this year.

He emphasized the NPA’s “zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to the free flow of traffic” and reiterated the agency’s dedication to improving port operations.

“Our zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to free flow of traffic is no fluke,” Koko said, noting that the rehabilitation efforts are aimed at consolidating gains achieved first in Apapa and now extending to Tin Can.

In January 2024, President Tinubu directed the Federal Ministry of Works to urgently and comprehensively repair the access roads to the Lagos Port Complex and Tin-Can Island Port Complex.

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, echoed the urgency of this directive, pointing out that the poor condition of the port access roads had significantly increased internal logistics costs for importers and exporters.

“The dilapidated port access roads increase the cost of internal logistics for importers and exporters,” Oyetola noted.

The improved road infrastructure is expected to curb the exodus of businesses from the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas, which had been driven away by the severe logistical challenges.

The restoration of these critical routes is also anticipated to enhance Nigeria’s competitiveness in international trade by facilitating smoother and more efficient port operations.

Following the inauguration of the port access roads, President Tinubu is also scheduled to flag off the Lagos to Calabar coastal road project at Victoria Island in Lagos.

Also, he will virtually inaugurate the newly rehabilitated 3rd Mainland Bridge, further underscoring his administration’s commitment to revitalizing Nigeria’s infrastructure.

The series of inaugurations and project launches underscore a broader strategy to enhance connectivity, reduce operational bottlenecks, and stimulate economic growth through improved infrastructure.

The completion of the Apapa and Tin Can Island port roads is a pivotal step in this direction, promising a new era of efficiency and productivity for Nigeria’s maritime sector.

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Iran Set for Presidential Elections on June 28 Following Raisi’s Tragic Death

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Ebrahim Raisi

The political landscape in Iran was abruptly reshaped following the untimely demise of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash over the weekend.

Now, the nation is poised for a significant transition with presidential elections scheduled for June 28 as reported by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will assume the role of president in the interim, in accordance with the constitution of the Islamic Republic.

This unexpected development comes in the wake of a tragic accident that claimed the lives of Raisi and eight others, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, in north-western Iran.

The government attributed the crash to adverse weather conditions and dense fog in the mountainous region.

As Iran prepares for the upcoming elections, candidates will have the opportunity to register starting May 30.

However, prospective candidates will undergo thorough vetting by the Guardian Council, a body comprising 12 clerics and jurists responsible for administering elections.

The council’s scrutiny is anticipated to be particularly stringent, given the unexpected vacancy in the presidency and the significance of the upcoming transition.

While Vice President Mokhber has assumed leadership in the interim period, it remains uncertain whether he will contest the presidential elections himself.

Speculation abounds as to who will emerge as the frontrunner in the electoral race, with many analysts suggesting that the clerical establishment and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may prefer a candidate aligned with Raisi’s ultraconservative stance, characterized by deep-seated distrust of the United States and Israel.

Raisi’s tenure as president was marked by polarizing policies and events.

His association with mass arrests and executions following violent protests in 2022, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody for allegedly violating Iran’s dress code, stirred controversy both domestically and internationally.

As such, his passing has not only left a void in Iran’s leadership but has also raised questions about the future trajectory of the nation’s politics.

With the presidential elections fast approaching, Iran finds itself at a critical juncture, grappling with the aftermath of a tragic loss while navigating the complexities of its political landscape.

As the nation mourns the passing of President Raisi, all eyes are now on the forthcoming electoral process, which is poised to shape Iran’s future in the post-Raisi era.

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Iran Mourns: Helicopter Crash Claims Lives of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian

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Ebrahim Raisi

A tragic helicopter crash has claimed the lives of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, sending shockwaves across the nation and plunging the country into mourning.

The fatal incident occurred in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, where the helicopter carrying the two senior officials and several other passengers crashed, resulting in the loss of all on board.

The crash site, now a scene of charred wreckage, stands as a somber reminder of the untimely demise of these key figures in Iranian politics.

President Raisi, who assumed office in August 2021, was widely regarded for his commitment to serving the Iranian people and advancing the nation’s interests on the global stage.

His tenure as president was marked by efforts to strengthen Iran’s position in regional affairs and enhance diplomatic relations with neighboring countries.

Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian played a pivotal role in shaping Iran’s foreign policy, particularly in fostering closer ties with neighboring nations in the Middle East, including Arab countries across the Gulf.

His diplomatic acumen and dedication to advancing Iran’s interests earned him respect both domestically and internationally.

The news of their tragic deaths has elicited an outpouring of grief and condolences from leaders and citizens alike, both within Iran and abroad.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim expressed his deep sadness over the loss, highlighting President Raisi’s commitment to justice, peace, and the upliftment of the Muslim world.

Similarly, the European Union extended its sincere condolences to the families of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian, acknowledging the profound impact of their untimely passing on the Iranian nation.

The helicopter crash not only robbed Iran of two of its most prominent leaders but also left a void in the country’s political landscape.

As the nation grapples with this immense loss, tributes pour in from all corners, commemorating the contributions of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian to the advancement of Iran’s interests and the well-being of its people.

The legacy of these esteemed leaders will endure in the hearts and minds of Iranians, serving as a guiding light for future generations as they navigate the complexities of governance and diplomacy in an ever-changing world.

Iran mourns the loss of two of its finest sons, whose dedication and service will be remembered for years to come.

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