Saturday, 7 October 2017

Afenifere queries Buhari’s silence on $25bn NNPC contract scandal

The pan-Yoruba organisation, Afenifere, has queried the silence of President Muhammadu Buhari and his presidency on the $25 billion oil sector contracts scandal currently rocking the government.

Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, had, in a letter dated 30 August, 2017, written to Buhari, listed a number of contracts which he said were illegally awarded by the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). All the contracts, valued at over $25billion, according to the minister, were not approved by the board of the NNPC as required by law.
Afenifere spoke as the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) also called on the presidency to institute a probe into the allegations, which it said were “very grave and weighty”.
Speaking with Saturday Tribune on the telephone, on Friday, the spokesman of Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, described the allegation by the minister as a “monumental national tragedy” and called for the suspension of Dr Baru to allow a proper investigation into the allegations.
Odumakin said “it is surprising and unfortunate that a contract scam of monumental proportion to the tune of $25billion occurred long ago in the NNPC and the presidency was notified but did not say a word on it until it was blown open.
He declared that “Baru should be suspended from office immediately, rather than President Buhari holding a meeting with the petroleum minister and the NNPC GMD, to suggest that it is a family affair.
“It is not about meeting between the Minister and the GMD with the president, it is about weighty allegations of infraction, of award of contracts worth $25billlion. It is not about meeting; it is not a family affair. This is about public interest; this is about public procurement; this is about anti-corruption and this is about due process.
“It is tragic and heartbreaking that a fraud of such monumental proportion, as disclosed by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, could be perpetrated under the nose of this administration.
“It is more tragic that the Minister of State could write a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari in respect of the allegation since August and nothing was done over the issue over a long period of time.
“Recall that the administration came into power on the basis of fighting corruption but we are witnessing such a monumental fraud. The amount mentioned in the letter is more than our foreign reserve and the 2017 budget.
“It is a tragedy for the anti-corruption war that a scam of the monumental proportion of the type the minister made against the GMD would be in the archives like the 2014 Confab Report, until it was leaked.
“And days after the leakage, it has been mum from the presidency. We are talking here of an amount that is more than our foreign reserve. To restore public confidence in the anti-corruption war, the GMD should be suspended to allow proper investigation.
“This scam confirms our fears that we may just be engaged in anti-corruption propaganda while keeping the architecture of corruption. If we are fighting corruption and we are arraigning those who were accused of stealing less than N60 million, we must not keep quiet over this scam, running into trillions of naira,” Afenifere said.

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