The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Saturday said it did not breach due process in the award of the controversial Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano, AKK, Gas Pipeline contract, or any other contract it handled.
Describing alleged breach or irregularity in the contract tendering process as misleading, the NNPC management also denied the contract was already approved before last Wednesday.
At the end of the FEC meeting in Abuja last Wednesday, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, told State House Correspondents that he had forwarded the controversial $2.7 billion (about N827 billion at N306.3=$1) for approval.
The contract had generated much tension in October after a memo Mr. Kachikwu wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari on August 30, 2017 leaked in the media.
In the memo, Mr. Kachikwu alleged insubordination by the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, accusing him of not following due process in the tendering for the contract.
The minister had said Mr. Baru did not involve him as the chairman designate of the NNPC Board and the supervising minister of petroleum in the decision making process towards the final approval of the contract.
When asked to clarify why he had to again forward for approval the contract he had earlier accused Mr. Baru of awarding to a Chinese firm, the minister explained it was meant to correct observed irregularities in the tender process noted in his leaked memo to the president.
“What I complained about (in memo to the President) was about due process not being following in the initial approvals obtained without seeking my concurrence or input,” Mr. Kachikwu said.
He said before forwarding the memo to FEC on Wednesday, he had followed due process,
“What I did was an inverse approval process, which is post-the fact, by taking the details of the contact tender back to the NNPC Board, briefed its members and obtained their buy-ins.
“Based on the president’s input as the full minister, then the contract tender would go to FEC for approval for the final award. That is the due process of how things should be done,” he said.
However, on Saturday, the NNPC in a series of tweets through its Twitter handle, @NNPCgroup,apparently in reaction to the minister’s explanations on Wednesday, insisted it did not breach any due process either in seeking approval for the AKK pipeline project contract tender, or any other contract it handled.
“It is therefore most unfortunate the continued claim that there was an approval for the contract and that it had to be represented to the #FECagain to correct any infringement,” one of the tweets read.
The NNPC said its tendering process required that all contracts be presented for approval by the NNPC Tenders Board, NTB.
Where the contract is above NTB’s approval threshold of $20 million, it said, the process would require a final endorsement by FEC.
Insisting the AKK pipeline contract tender followed due process, the NNPC pointed out that the tender for the contract was considered and endorsed by NTB on July 12, for consideration by #FEC.
“It was never approved by Mr. President, nor considered by FEC prior to 13th December, 2017,” it said.