•PDP, APC, CAN speak
By Moshood Adebayo, Willy Eya, Ndubuisi Orji
Discordant tunes have continued to trail Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s comments on Minister of State for Petroleum. Indeed, a huge crisis is brewing over the biting fuel scarcity with some calling for the minister’s head.
The national leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) had lambasted Kachikwu who is also the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) that he lacked the magic wand to ease scarcity of petroleum products and that the situation would linger till May.
At the weekend, the South-south and South-east wing of the expressed conflicting opinions over whether Kachikwu should resign or not. While the South-south wing of APC took Kachikwu to the cleaners and asked him to resign over his inability to resolve the lingering fuel scarcity, the South-east chapter thinks otherwise.
However, a member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Ebenezar Babatope said the APC government should fix the problem and stop the blame game.
He said: “the suffering in Nigeria is becoming too much. Nigerians are having a very bad Easter celebration. The APC should not pass the buck to the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu. The problem of Nigeria now is beyond Kachikwu. I am not interested in what an individual said about a minister.”
The opposition PDP has also joined the fray as it asked the APC to learn from the initiative of former president Goodluck Jonathan.
According to a statement by its deputy national publicity, Abdullahi Jalo, PDP said: “APC should revert to the policy of the Dr Jonathan administration. They should patronise those with tank farms and allow them to continue to partake in importation of petroleum products. They can’t continue to tell us that only NNPC will import the products; we shall continue to have shortfall in supplies when you haven’t even fixed the refineries.”
Jalo however aligned himself with the submission of the former Lagos State governor that the Minister of State for Petroleum was treating Nigerians with disrespect.
“We expect a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to be diplomatic, he should be selective in his choice of words. One of the promises made by APC is the availability of petroleum products, yet Nigerians aren’t only queuing at gas stations, they are sleeping there.”
A statement by the APC National Vice Chairman, South-south, Prince Hilliard Eta, alleged that “Kachikwu has not graduated above the orientation of his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),” stressing that such is still manifesting in his actions and utterances.
“In the light of the foregoing, Mr. Kachikwu must not be a cog in the wheel of progress and he should do the needful by resigning honourably if he is not capable of doing his part by efficiently running the Ministry assigned to him,” the APC noted.
But in a swift reaction, the South-east wing of the party declared support for the embattled minister, praising him for bringing transparency and sanity to the nation’s oil sector.
A statement issued yesterday by the party’s spokesman in the zone, Osita Okechukwu said those calling for the minister’s resignation should not forget that he has brought about transparency in the fuel supply chain, saving the country about N500 billion.
According to the statement: “Whereas, our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not only politically correct but has the constitutional rights to condemn the awkward joke made by the Hon Minister of State for Petroleum Resources over the national embarrassment caused our great country by the ugly fuel supply chain logjam, the South East Zone of the All Progressives Congress (APC) do not subscribe to the call for his resignation.
“Those who call for his resignation should not forget the transparent, frugal and prudent manner in which Kachikwu and co deployed in the petroleum product importation and fuel supply chain; a policy which has saved our dear country over N500 billion for the country.
“May we also remind those who call for his resignation, how the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) turned the petroleum product importation and fuel supply chain into a slush fund, recklessly increased the cost geometrically from N634 billion in 2010 to N1.6 trillion in 2012. In 2013, N888 billion was officially budgeted with a supplementary budget of N232 billion in the same year, making an average N1 trillion per annum. It is our considered opinion that Kachikwu should stay, for bringing sanity to the petroleum product important and fuel supply chain in the last 10 months.”
Eta said Tinubu’s umbrageshould not be interpreted as an indication of a rift in the APC. “It is important to reiterate here that winning the federal election in 2015 has not eroded the core ideology of progressivism which we espouse as it is the very foundation on which the party rest.
“This progressive ideology strongly emphasises government as a tool for service to the people who are the custodians of power in the first instance. In line with this, it is not wrong or out of place for Tinubu to call the Minister of State for Petroleum to order owing to the anti-progressive statements he made in the Presidential Villa on Wednesday 23 March, 2016, while fielding questions from Journalists on the persisting scarcity of petrol.
“Secondly, we in the APC believe that it is proper to immediately correct mistakes or errors committed by any member of the party, no matter how highly placed and we are developing a culture of accountability to Nigerians who government is meant to serve.
“From this perspective, it is therefore understandable that Kachikwu’s statement that he has no solution to petrol scarcity bedevilling the country drew flaks from Tinubu and this does not, in any way imply that there is a crack within the party. In African culture, it is irresponsible for an elder to watch a youngsters or an inexperience person blunder without immediately calling him to order,” he noted.
The Christian umbrella body, the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) described Kachikwu’s statement that fuel scarcity would linger till May as unguarded and an insult to the long-suffering Nigerians.
The Northern chapter of CAN in a statement by Rev. John Hayab tasked the Federal Government to do the needful in order to eliminate the current hardship being faced by Nigerians.
While stressing that Nigerians voted the current government for positive change, the CAN spokesman added that government was meant to cushion effects of hardship on the people.
“What we are saying is that government is meant for the people and as such government should double its efforts to reduce the pains inflicted on the average Nigerians by the fuel scarcity in the country.
“The way and manner Nigerians queue, (some even sleep at filing stations) in the face of this hardship is unacceptable to the leadership Northern CAN.
“Northern CAN wants the government to earnestly do something urgent to avert this ugly situation before it gets out of hands.”