The Bola Tinubu administration has been urged to launch an investigation into a fraudulent gas deal consultancy the immediate past Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, entered into on behalf of the Federal Government before she left office on May 29.
Stakeholders and industry watchers said the consultancy services facilitated by Ahmed in the nation’s power sector was illegal and a waste of public funds.
She engaged Ahmed Zakari & Co, an accounting firm as transaction adviser to execute a Make-up Gas Reprocessing (MUGR) deal.
Stakeholders said the project was purely a bilateral agreement between Calabar Generation Company Ltd (Calabar GenCo) and Accugas Ltd, pointing out that the Ahmed arrangement might cause the federal government some legal problems.
“If I were to advise President Bola Tinubu, he should direct the Ministry of Finance to stop all payments to Ahmed Zakari & Co and ask the ministry to submit a report of the payments that have been made to the firm so far and for what purposes.
“President Tinubu should ask for all the agreements under this MUGR and demand a copy of the addendum which the Accugas executed with the NDPHC that extended the sunset date for the utilization of the MUG to seven years,’’ an official said.
Persecondnews reports that Calabar GenCo is owned by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), which belongs to the three tiers of government, while Accugas is a private company.
According to another ministry official, Accugas and NDPHC were already discussing the extension of the sunset date for the utilisation of the MUG without the involvement of any consultant or adviser.
“ Both parties subsequently executed an addendum to the GSA that provides for the MUG to be utilized within seven years.
“The implication is that at the time Zainab Ahmed executed the transaction agreement with Ahmed Zakari & Co in September 2022, they all knew that there was really nothing for the firm to do, besides being paid for doing nothing.”
A gas supply agreement (GSA), a bilateral transaction executed by a GenCo and a gas supplier, spells out terms for a review of the clauses.
It was gathered that Ahmed had proposed that Nigeria could covert the MUG to liquified natural gas (LNG) and export to earn revenue for the federation after she allegedly secured former President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval.
Zakari & Co has been reportedly in dollars as fees for the needless consultancy.
An official also said: “The standard practice with respect to the utilisation of MUG is for the buyer to contact the seller and for both contracting parties to negotiate alternative durations for the utilisation of the MUG.
“This is necessary because it is gas that the buyer has already paid for. There is usually no requirement for a third party to get involved. Indeed, because the GSA is a bilateral agreement, it will cease to be so if third and fourth parties get involved.
“What would usually happen is for the two parties to concede doing one of the following or both: one, renegotiate the take-or-pay quantity upon which the GSA was executed or, two, extend the sunset date for the utilisation of the MUG.”
In pushing for the MUGR proposal early 2022, Moyi Dahiru, the then Special Assistant on Power to the former minister had led the discussions with the power sector stakeholders.
In attendance were officials of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc, NDPHC Ltd, Accugas and Azura.
“Azura made it clear to Mr Dahiru that they do not have any business with the MUGR, particularly because the government is not a party to the GSA,’’ an official also said.
However, NDPHC which manages the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP), including 10 GenCos, had “played along’’ because it did not want to upset ministry officials who process the payment of the gas invoices every month.
In February 2022, Ahmed secured an approval from Buhari to retain the accounting firm of Ahmad Zakari & Co as the transaction adviser.
This became effective from September 5, 2022 when the firm signed the agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), represented by the ministry of finance.
“Ahmad Zakari & Co’s agreement is of no effect, but money is being paid to the firm for doing nothing.
“The truth is that top government officials usually connived with some of the principal members of staff in the Presidential Villa to mislead Buhari into signing all kinds of things, including appointments for the most unqualified persons and dubious payments.”
On May 24, 2023, Aliyu Ahmed, the permanent secretary in the ministry of finance, wrote a letter to Total Energies with the title ‘Make-Up gas re-purpose transaction, conveyance of extracts of presidential approval of global framework transaction’, conveying the directive of the government on the treatment of the MUG by GenCos.
Persecondnews had broken a story about Ahmed’s alleged devious plot conceived and hatched by her against Nigeria to circumvent and deny Nigeria of quality representation at the World Bank Group for several months and fraudulently nominating herself for the job.
Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who was the minister in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari up till May 29, 2023, has allegedly appropriated the position to herself without recourse to the Federal Government, Per Second News exclusively reports.
For “successfully’’ executing the shenanigan, Ahmed, during whose tenure Nigeria was plunged into N77 trillion debt both local and foreign borrowings, is set to take up the job on July 10, 2023 as an Alternate Executive Director, AED, barring any hitch, Per Second News.com reliably gathered in Washington, DC.
As at the time this report was filed, the media aide of the ex-minister has yet to respond to press enquiries.