By Donald Ugwu
The Presidency on Sunday said no contracts worth 25 billion dollars were awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
It also said that 25 billion dollars was not missing in the corporation.
Mr Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, stated this in a statement in Abuja.
According to him, no contracts were procured by the NNPC based on the leaked memo of Petroleum Resources Minister of State, Ibe Kachukwu, even though such impressions have been maliciously created in the past few weeks.
Akande disclosed that a close look at each of the said projects indicated clearly that “these are not procurement contracts”.
He said “when I tweeted on Thursday morning, I had indicated that the Vice President, while acting as President approved Joint Venture Financing arrangements.
“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.”
He added that what was more important was “when you look diligently at the referenced projects/transactions one by one, you will see, as NNPC has shown, that none of them was actually a procurement contract”.
“Take 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.
“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,’’ he added.
The vice presidential spokesman recalled that the Petroleum Minister himself had 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.”
For both transactions, Akande reiterated that there was falsehood and also inaccurate to attach 10 billion dollars and five billion dollars values on them.
“Attaching monetary values to these contracts is an arbitrary act that completely distorts understanding of the situation.”
He said Nigerians should be informed clearly that whenever there was monetary value on any crude oil lifted in the country, “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.”
Akande also explained that in compiling the shortlist for prospective off-takers of crude oil and suppliers of petroleum under agreed terms, “there were public placements of advert in the mass media seeking Expressions of Interest.
“Bids were publicly opened in the presence of NEITI, DPR, BPP, Civil Society groups and the media; in some cases even, these events were televised live.”
“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,’’ he stated.
Akande said it was 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”.
He also said that the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) Gas Pipeline Contract was a contractor-financed job, which had not been finalized or awarded.
According to him, it is still making its way to the Federal Executive Council.
The presidential aide noted that 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,” he explained.
On Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), Akande said “there is no contract in the three billion dollars to four billion dollars range as reported in some media.
“You can then see from the foregoing that the 25 billion dollars being bandied in the media does not exist. There is no 25 billion dollars missing.”