Should Kachikwu be made to resign?


By Muyiwa Adetiba

A petrol station is not the place to spend Easter. But that was what happened to millions of Nigerians last week. For many, the entire Easter weekend was devoted to the search of the elusive liquid gold. So it was at Christmas. So it was at New Year.

It is beginning to look like the leadership is determined to deny the rest of us the simple pleasures of the festive seasons having taken most other pleasures and conveniences from us. In the midst of all this, the man whose duty it is to ensure we have sufficient fuel for our needs said most undiplomatically that he was not a magician and that our woes would continue a while longer. We had adequate fuel most of last year and the year before.

Were his predecessors practicing sorcery or magic? Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, GMD, NNPC But it could very well mean that the man is facing problems from his constituency unknown to the rest of us. It could mean he is being actively sabotaged by the very people who should be helping out. It could mean the powerful oil and gas barons are putting cogs in the wheel of progress. It could mean the enemies within are the government and party officials who expect the largess of being at the centre and feel short changed.

Whatever the cause, Kachikwu’s frustrations and exasperations came out in that statement. It also exposed him to the wolves who would be only too glad to devour him. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu led the pack with his scathing statement. I don’t know whether it was written in his personal capacity or as the leader of the party though the contents suggest the latter. Many people question the medium.

Yes, there are indeed many ways Tinubu could have made his feelings known privately including sending for the Minister. But I have no quarrel with the medium if it is not the first time because sometimes you have to make things public for effect and an erring relative could be better corrected if scolded in public. I however believe that the first reprimand should always be made in private.

Another positive thing about the letter is that it tried to protect the party by letting us know that it is not insensitive to the plight of the people while assuaging the feelings of the populace. However, a public comment exposes you almost as much as it exposes the person you are writing to in that public analysts are likely to dissect both the content and the intent of the comment.

They are going to wonder if there are under lying currents behind the public display. Already, there are insinuations that someone from Lagos State was appointed by Kachikwu without the approval of Tinubu. Or that OANDO which is mainly owned and run by a Tinubu is being gradually squeezed out. Or that the main target is to attack the employer of Kachikwu. While these may or may not be the reasons, it is almost certain that Kachikwu had at some point, stepped on the powerful toes of Tinubu who has now seized the moment like all astute people do. I believe Kachikwu should learn one or two things from the letter. His public comments and body language sometimes make him seem aloof which is strange because he is ordinarily a good communicator. He should also learn to be patient when dealing with the press and the public. While I do not really question the medium and the message in the public letter, I question the tone of it. It is almost as out of line as the Minister’s comment that drew the ire. It is not only dripping with ill-will, it is condescending and lacking in respect.

Dr Ibe Kachikwu is, until he is removed, the Honourable Minister of the Federal Republic and deserves some respect especially in public. Berating him like a school boy is not right. Or to use the words of the writer, out of line. Asiwaju Tinubu barely stopped short of asking for his removal. He did allude to it though when he said ‘he would have been reprimanded or worse’ if he was in the private sector. This was probably the impetus needed by the chorus boys to step forward and ask for Kachikwu’s resignation.

A call that led to an unnecessary division in the party structure. I do not wish to dabble into the internal politics of the APC party except to say that should Kachikwu be made to resign on account of incompetence as it is being implied, then over seventy per cent of those in the cabinet should go. He is by far, the most active of the Ministers. He has since assuming office tried to grapple with the hydra-headed monster that is NNPC. He has pushed once again, the PIB into the front burner. If a newspaper named him the best Minister in December, it was probably because many of the others have been anonymous.

So if he should be asked to go on the grounds of incompetence, what reasons should be used to keep the others? Most people celebrated Easter in darkness and a million houses a year is at the moment, nothing but a slogan. The education ministry is wobbling and fumbling. The Transport Minister is more enmeshed in local politics than facing the challenges of his ministry. Lassa fever is still killing people months after it first broke out and health workers’ strike are more the rule than the exception.

Many of the other Ministers are yet to raise their hands and be counted. Kachikwu is doing a difficult job in difficult circumstances. He should be corrected when he makes careless and un-useful remarks. But his party should not be the first to send him to the gallows to be hung unless he turns out to be a common thief. And the calls for his resignation are premature. One thing that is emerging is that APC is not in sync with itself. It got to power on the promises of change but many of its members are averse to any fundamental change. Many are still concerned with position and self- aggrandisement. For how long can the centre hold?

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