By Dipo Olowookere
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has denied a media report that it inflated the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project to the tune of $1.527 billion.
The Group General Manager in charge of the Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Mr Kennie Obateru, said in a statement that the allegation was not only baseless but untrue.
The state-owned oil agency advised members of the public to ignore the report, further describing it as “malicious and a direct attack on the character of the person” of its Group Managing Director, Mr Mele Kyari and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), claiming it was “designed to distract Mallam Kyari from successful pursuit of delivering the Next Level Agenda of President [Muhammadu] Buhari.”
According to the statement, Mr Kyari deserves to be praised by “all well-meaning Nigerians” because he has been transparent, accountable and has performed well since he became the head of the NNPC in July 2019.
The NNPC said the BPP, following a detailed review and analysis of the procurement bid, confirmed that the unit costs for line pipes adopted by the NNPC for the project were reasonable when compared with current market prices for 40”, 36”, 20” and 14” steel pipes, adding that it was on that basis that BPP confirmed and granted a certificate of no objection dated August 11, 2017.
NNPC stated that the AKK project underwent a transparent and open competitive tender process that resulted in the emergence of the most competitive bidders, wondering how a competitive tender process could be inflated.
“Approval of all relevant authorities were obtained after intense scrutiny by the various agencies. This is a deliberate attempt to mislead the Nigerian public with baseless information,” the corporation said.
It said the AKK pipeline project was one of the key landmark projects that have had transparent processes from inception to date, with the entire evaluation exercise carried out by NNPC and Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
“This is clearly a concocted analysis aimed at attacking the character of Mr Kyari and the integrity of the BPP,” the agency said of the report, which it promised to challenge in court, saying “This is rather unfortunate and malicious, considering that a further cut of $300million of the contract value was achieved under the Mele Kyari-led NNPC management leading to the recognition by the Federal Executive Council as an unprecedented action.”
In June 2020, President Buhari flagged off the AKK gas project in Kogi State, with some local banks financing the project.
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