October 4, 2017 / 10:57 AM / 3 years ago

Nigerian oil minister complains to president about state oil firm's management

ABUJA, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s two top oil officials are at loggerheads over the management of the state oil firm, according to a letter from the oil minister to the country’s president, threatening to hinder industry reforms.

Nigeria has been struggling with low oil prices as well as suffering cuts in output caused by militant attacks and ageing infrastructure. The government relies on oil for roughly two thirds of its revenue.

The letter, confirmed by the oil ministry late on Tuesday, is titled “Matters of insubordination and lack of adherence to due process perpetrated by the GMD NNPC (Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation).” It was sent by the oil minister, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, to President Muhammadu Buhari and is dated 30 Aug.

In the letter Kachikwu accuses the state oil firm’s GMD, Maikanti Baru, of making “massive changes” without the minister’s approval, including appointments never approved by the board of the company, on which the minister sits.

Baru’s actions over the course of the preceding year were “disrespectful and humiliating,” Kachikwu told the president.

The NNPC did not respond to multiple calls and messages requesting comment.

Nigeria’s oil industry is “in a critical state where only innovative ideas can stop the alarming impact of the fall of oil prices on the national income,” the minister wrote.

Baru’s conduct was non-transparent, his recent appointments should be suspended pending a review and the running of the NNPC should be under board supervision, said Kachikwu.

The oil ministry said in a separate statement the letter was “normal procedural correspondence” between Kachikwu and Buhari.

The president replaced Kachikwu with Baru as the head of NNPC in July last year, while the oil minister kept his position as chairman.

The oil minister under the previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan also headed the NNPC, a position which Buhari’s government says was abused for personal gain. (Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh and Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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