Senate Committee Chairman On Petroleum Asks Buhari To Suspend Baru, Kachikwu

Tayo Alasoadura

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) Senator Tayo Alasoadura, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately suspend the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru over the recent scandal that was made public.

Alasoadura said Baru’s continued presence at the NNPC could jeopardise the Senate investigation into the allegations that he allegedly approved contracts to the tune of $25bn without the approval of the corporation’s board.  Over 40 firms received the $25bn contracts.

The senator said this during a live programme on Channels Television titled, Sunday Politics.

When asked if they should be suspended, Alasoadura said, “I believe so; especially the man who is doing the day-to-day running of the organisation. In order not to hinder or hamper that investigation, because records will be needed and even from the date of the leakage of that letter, I think action should have been taken to ensure that nothing will be missing when investigations start

“So, I think the two of them should be asked to step aside and when investigation is over, whoever is culpable will go and whoever is not culpable, will continue with his duties.”

The lawmaker, who represents Ondo Central Senatorial District, said one of the causes of the problem was the fact that Buhari doubled as the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

Describing the arrangement as faulty, Alasoadura said Buhari should step down and appoint a substantive minister who would be able to do the job more effectively.

He added, “Judging from the many problems plaguing our country today, I believe Mr. President should devote more time to other things and let an independent person run the petroleum resources ministry who will then report to him twice or once a week.’’

He added, “We are probing them because we want to get to the root of this matter. If you are doing an investigation, even those who have not been mentioned may have to be invited, but as of today, these are the people that we think should be invited and from there, we may need to invite many more organisations as the probe continues.”