President Muhammadu Buhari will appoint a new group managing director for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) if Ibe Kachikwu’s ministerial nomination is approved by the senate, TheCable understands.
Kachikwu, who was appointed GMD only in August, was nominated as minister by Buhari in what insiders described as a “soft landing” arrangement for the former executive vice chairman and general counsel of Exxon Mobil (Africa).
Buhari, presidential sources said, has been very “uncomfortable” with some of the actions, pronouncements and in-house changes made by Kachikwu since he became the helmsman at NNPC.
Kachikwu allegedly gave priority to the settlement of debts owed to his former employers, ExxonMobil, by NNPC, and was also said to have fallen out of line with his proposal to sell the refineries despite the stand of the president that they should be put in good condition first before any further discussions.
Management changes made by Kachikwu at the NNPC and its strategic business units are also said to be “lopsided”, with eight positions going to a particular part of the country, although the president approved before they were made public.
“You can say Buhari was misled into appointing Kachikwu as NNPC GMD,” a presidency official said, adding that a ministerial position was a better option for him “in view of the unfolding circumstances”.
Buhari is hoping to make Kachikwu minister of state for petroleum resources while heading the ministry by himself.
TheCable understands that one of the current group executive directors (GEDs) is expected to take over from Kachikwu, with Maikanti Baru from Bauchi State as the favourite.
Baru, who holds a Ph.D. like Kachikwu, is currently the GED for exploration and production and was initially tipped to succeed Joseph Dawha, who was removed as GMD in August.