03 February 2016, Abuja – The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and members of the House of Representatives exchanged words on Tuesday over the controversial crude oil for refined products exchange contracts between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and some trading firms.
The contracts, which ran between 2010 and 2014, were worth over $24bn in value.
The swap deals involved the exchange of crude oil for refined petroleum products in which the corporation gave out part of its 445,000 barrels per day share crude allocation to the trading companies.
An ad hoc committee of the House chaired by an All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Kwara State, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, is investigating the swap contracts in which Nigeria was reportedly short-changed to the tune of billions of dollars.
Kachikwu, who doubles as the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, was neither the GMD nor the minister when the deals were signed.
He had been summoned by the committee to speak on the role of the NNPC in the deals, but the minister dismissed questions put to him on the grounds that he knew nothing about the contracts.
The committee asked specific questions on whether there was a bidding process that pre-qualified companies such as Duke Oil and Trafigura, the major crude lifters that participated in the deals.
Members of the committee also sought to know how the swap arrangement benefited Nigeria as against the direct importation of refined petroleum products.
But Kachikwu dismissed the questions and insisted that he would not answer because the transactions were in the past. His responses, however, infuriated members of the committee.
Mohammed, for instance, told him to stop behaving like the lawyer he is while appearing before a parliamentary committee.
“The lawyer in you keeps coming to the surface in answering these questions, but we are talking to you in your capacity as a minister and the GMD of the NNPC. You have to help this committee,” Mohammed stated.
Another member, Mr. Saheed Fijabi, while raising his voice, asked Kachikwu to act “responsibly” by answering the questions.
“You need to take more responsibility; it is your job. You are the GMD and also the minister. You must have met and studied some files, these things did not happen in 1970, but just 2014,” Fijabi said.