The Presidency has faulted reports that $25bn worth of oil contracts were awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) or that $25bn was missing in the NNPC.
This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande.
“No contracts were procured by the NNPC based on the leaked memo of the Petroleum Resources Minister of State, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, even though such impressions have been maliciously created in the past few weeks,” the statement said.
On October 12, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had said he granted authorisation to two ventures from the corporation while President Muhammadu Buhari was on medical leave.
He had noted that the approvals were specifically for financing joint ventures through loans and not contracts.
Akande, who was answering questions from reporters in Abuja on the matter, said that a closer look at each of the said projects indicated clearly that “these are not procurement contracts.”
“When I tweeted on Thursday morning last week, I had indicated that the Vice President, while acting as president approved Joint Venture Financing arrangements,” he said.
“But for some curious reasons, a few media reports used that tweet to report that I said the then Acting President approved N640 Billion worth of oil contracts. Such reporting is both false and misleading and, therefore, ought to be completely ignored by all seekers of truth.”
The Vice President’s aide, however, said that what was more important was that none of the referenced projects and transactions revealed by the NNPC was actually a procurement contract.
“Take both the Crude Term Contract and the Direct Sale, Direct Purchase (DSDP) agreements, for instance, these are not procurement contracts involving the expenditure of public funds,” he said.
“Both transactions are simply a shortlisting process, in which prospective off-takers of crude oil and suppliers of petroleum are selected under agreed terms, and in accordance with due process. It is therefore wrong and misleading to refer to them as though they’re contracts involving the expenditure of NNPC funds, or public funds of any sort.
“As you now know, the Honorable Minister of Petroleum Resources himself has in fact clarified that he meant to focus on administrative and governance issues, not red-flag any fraud – because no fraud exists in this matter,” he added.
Akande also maintained that it was untrue and inaccurate to attach $10B and $5B values on both contracts, saying “attaching monetary values to these contracts is an arbitrary act that completely distorts understanding of the situation.”
“Whenever there is a monetary value on any consignment of crude oil lifted in this country by any firm, the proceeds go directly to the Federation Account and not to any company. In fact, the Buhari administration in the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has closed down multiple NNPC accounts in order to promote transparency and probity.”
He explained further that in compiling the shortlisting for the prospective off-takers of crude oil and suppliers of petroleum under agreed terms, there were public placements of advertisements in the mass media seeking Expressions of Interest (EoI).
Osinbajo’s spokesman added that bids were publicly opened in the presence of regulatory agencies in the sector and civil society groups among others.
He said, “For the sake of emphasis, let me state clearly that both the Crude Term Contract and the Direct Sale and Direct Purchase agreements are not contracts for any procurement of goods, works or services, and, therefore, do not involve the use of public funds; instead, they are simply a shortlisting of off-takers.
“It is important to set the records straight that the list of approved off-takers does not carry any financial values but simply states the terms and conditions for the lifting and supply of petroleum products.”
Akande also informed that the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) Gas Pipeline Contract was a contractor-financed contract which has not yet been finalised or awarded, saying it is making its way to the Federal Executive Council.
He added, “There were also three presidential approvals given on Joint Venture financing arrangements, meaning loans to cater for cash call obligations – one of these was okayed by the President in 2015, and two by the then Acting President in 2017.”