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Kachikwu as Scapegoat of Tinubu’s Frustration [Must Read]

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The mantra of ‘change’, mouthed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) during the electoral campaigns was so appealing at the time to Nigerians, such that when they ushered Muhammadu Buhari into office by voting out Goodluck Jonathan, hope became the most abundant commodity in Nigeria. 

Image: Bola Tinubu and President Buhari 

When APC promised that they were going to recreate for Nigerians a heaven on earth, they were believed and trusted, especially as that ‘change promise’ was being steered by a man that was reputed to be a man of truth. 

For a country that places little premium on competence and proven track record, not much thought was extended on Buhari’s ability to understand, not to talk of being able to confront the complex demands of modern-day issues. 

Even those who had queried his intellectual capacity to face up to those modern-day challenges were shouted down. Nigerians wanted their man; they got him. 

Ten months into President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC administration, it has become obvious, even to the APC bosses themselves, that talk is cheap, and that as the saying goes here in Nigeria, ‘khaki no be leather’. 

One does not have to be ‘a wailer’ to see and accept that nothing is working in today’s Nigeria or that the government is at sea over where next to turn. 

In the beginning, every bend on the road was blamed on the outgone administration of President Jonathan as well as on the 16-year reign of the PDP, which in any case, was made up of most of today’s top-hats in the APC. 

The over-lapping messages of the campaign period had continued to work for the APC during the early months of the administration, but it could definitely not last forever. 

Propaganda, though effective on the short run, has a very quick expiry date. The APC’s campaign excuses and the blaming game days have also elapsed… perhaps permanently.

For instance, there was no way the Buhari administration could continue to blame Goodluck Jonathan for the president’s inability to pick ministers for six whole months.

Nor could the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) be blamed for having anything to do with the fact that when PMB eventually did pick his ministers, they were mostly lack-lustre and lacking in pedigree, accounting for the fact that the cabinet does not have one single person whose voice commands authority in the field of economic management. 

Many have wondered if the problem with the embarrassingly low quality of Buhari’s team is the lack of the ability, ab initio, of the president to distinguish copper from gold.

Yet, there are many other informed observers who believe, like an article of faith, that the problem with the inertia of the current cabinet members who have definitely not performed, might not be in their personal lack of capacity, but rather, in the absence of a definite roadmap, as it is widely alleged that no minister can as much as sharpen a pencil without the president’s say-so. 

Which should not be a surprise, as, after all, over 90 per cent of them were picked not on their individual merit as proven performers, but rather because they were cronies of either Buhari or Ahmed Tinubu, the ‘owner’ of the other half of the party that brought the votes and the cash.

While I cannot vow that I know for certain how Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu made it to the cabinet, but those who know claim that he had come recommended by quarters that the president could not say ‘No’ to. 

Hence, in spite of the acknowledged capacity of the likes of Babatunde Fashola, Ibe Kachikwu and a few others, who had shown proven capacity in the past, their low performance at their current posts has been manifestly dismal.

In spite of what might be the wish of the regime’s Squealer, in the person of Lai Mohammed, to convince us about the El Dorado that the Buhari administration promises and which is awaiting manifestation, Nigerians have become like the proverbial blind man. 

You might be able to convince him that there is no oil in the food; you cannot convince him that there is no salt. 

In the same token, nobody needs to sermonize to Nigerians about the performance of Fashola at the Power Ministry or of Kachikwu at the Petroleum ministry and at the NNPC. 

But more importantly, let it not be forgotten that President Buhari had appropriated the senior ministerial position in Petroleum, pushing Kachikwu, the acknowledged expert, to the subordinate level. 

So, the harrowing predicament of Nigerians with power which had peaked at more than 5000 megawatts as Jonathan was leaving, and as the Buhari administration acknowledged that it had contributed zilch to the situation, has now gone down to as low as below 2000 megawatt mark, says everything about the performance of the current administration. 

Not to talk about the fuel supply situation which has crippled the economy, by keeping Nigerians at a standstill, and against which the government, unfortunately, has no solution, both on the short and long term basis. 

The tragedy of what is happening in the Petroleum industry is that it is a direct indictment on the capacity of the president himself who had on his own appropriated the ministry for his personal management.

The fact remains that while most Nigerians cannot be bothered about the lack of the foreign exchange to send their children abroad or to import exotic goods or even to attend hospitals overseas, no Nigerian can do without fuel because life in Nigeria runs on fuel. 

That is why the Buhari administration will be defined in weeks and months ahead by its ability to solve the current fuel scarcity crisis, for which it seems to have no clues, so far, leading to Kachikwu’s sorrowful surrender last week. 

The helplessness of the government must have led to the frustration of the NNPC group MD, Ibe Kachikwu, who last week, lamented to media people that the problem might linger for another two months – or even more. 

In parody of his boss who has continued to maintain to Nigerians that he had promised change and not magic, and that he has no magic wand against Nigeria’s problems, Kachikwu also echoed the same “I am no magician” mantra last week. 

If indeed Kachikwu or his boss were magicians, they would have known how to solve Nigeria’s lingering fuel problems with his magic wand. Meanwhile, Nigeria and its petroleum sector must continue to coast on auto pilot!

The growing frustration of the APC and their leaders has been obvious in the last few weeks, manifesting outwardly in the current wrangling in the party ranks. 

The latest manifestation was the last weekend’s lash-out of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu against Dr Ibe Kachikwu for publicly acknowledging the administration’s inability to devise an early and workable solution to fuel scarcity. 

There are those, including this writer, that believe that Tinubu is being unduly high-handed against Kachikwu, as he would have directed his frustration and anger towards the president, who is the substantive petroleum minster. 

For, if indeed, the president had a solution, he would have passed it over to Kachikwu.

While we are at this, it is noteworthy to observe that what is happening should serve as an object lesson to the government of the day, which prefers cronyism over and above competence. 

The situation at the Education Ministry where a journalist/accountant was made the senior minister over and above a professor of education is a case in point. 

The first embarrassing fall-out of that faux-pas was that the president had to reverse publicly his recent sack of governing councils and vice chancellors of federal universities last week, because he had belatedly found out that he had broken the law by hearkening to the counsel of his ignorant, but over-zealous and clearly non-qualified education minister. 

He had picked Adamu Adamu not because of any track record in the education sector, but rather, because he had been his long-time aide, right from his days at the PTF, during the Abacha regime. 

One wonders how many more times the president will reverse himself in the near future.

Finally, the Tinubus of this country should learn to, in their frustration over obtuse policies, know where to place their blames. 

One of the characteristics of very qualified and efficient people is that they usually call a spade a spade, and do hardly engage in play of words. 

Dr. Kachikwu is a thoroughbred professional in the petroleum industry and does not need Tinubu or the jumble that is APC administration to prove himself.

So, when next Tinubu needs people to vent his spleen on, let him pick on the president on whose table the buck stops. 

Failing in that, he can pick on the likes of the finance minister or the power minister who have thrown Nigerians into confusion and darkness.

*Uche Ezechukwu is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of The Authority newspaper. His column on the back page of the paper appears every Monday (ezechukwu1@gmail.com)

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