The psyche of Nigerians has once again been needlessly assailed by the altercation between one of the leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) Sen. Bola Tinubu, and the Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu.
It all started last Wednesday from a statement credited to Kachikwu. After a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of PENGASSAN and NUPENG, the two major labour unions in the oil industry, Kachikwu’s riposte to reporters that Nigerians would still experience two more months of fuel scarcity, despite some of the nations’ functioning refineries, caused the stir.
Kachikwu, who doubles as the MD/CEO of NNPC submitted that oil refined by Nigeria’s refineries would rather be stockpiled in a strategic reserve, obviously for some national exigencies drew the flaks. It attracted tantrums and his open sinister rebuke by Tinubu.
Indeed, Tinubu was more irked by Kachikwu’s comments to the effect that his numerous trainings exclude conjuring magical powers to solve problems, hence he was not a magician.
The spate of assorted reactions to Tinubu’s outbursts on the matter are instructively interesting. While others applauded him for the umbrage against Kachikwu, many more have deflated his comments as more political than his “professed” empathy and concern for the plight of poor, suffering Nigerians.
Herein lies the trouble Tinubu has stoked for himself. To start with, for Tinubu to now sound so loud in defence of common Nigerians is to the say the least, a perfect denotation of the proverbial “leopard changing its spots.”
In the power sector, housing, education, insecurity and a motely of other sectors, it has been the same singsong. Nigerians never heard Tinubu’s voice even recently when the APC- led National Assembly foot- dragged over passage of the national budget, which holds the key of wealth creation and prosperity for all Nigerians.
In all these instances, the former Lagos state governor relaxed on his sofa in Lagos and had no expedient reason to pick a quarrel with the government or its top officials for the undeserved “procrastination” of remedial actions for the poor, suffering masses of Nigeria.
Therefore, his confrontation of Kachikwu over comments of delayed solution to the lingering fuel crisis smacks of a premeditated agenda to unleash the venom, not necessarily because of its presumed injury to national psyche.
Tinubu stated: “Perhaps the statement by Kachikwu was made in a moment of unguarded frustration or was an awkward attempt at a joke. Whatever the motive, it was untimely and off-putting.
But Tinubu and his soul mates in this delicate game are aware that it is sacred African culture, for an elder, who criticizes an action of younger ones, to also proffer a solution, if the criticism is inspired by altruistic reasons or genuine concerns.
Tinubu knows with unambiguous clarity that President Buhari is the overall boss of that crucial petroleum ministry and Kachikwu merely deputizes him. The decision of holding locally refined fuel in the face of national scarcity would have never been Kachikwu’s sole decision.
So, what is the point of Tinubu’s fuss with Kachikwu or was he expecting that the NNPC boss would have lied to Nigerians that local refineries are stepping in to solve the problem?
“We can no longer afford past practices.
His recourse to uttering confidence in Buhari’s administration in solving the fuel problem later in the body of his public statement, at best, as an after-thought, after the main bashing of the government he actively engineered its enthronement.
Again, as a focal member of the APC government Tinubu would not be denied the opportunity of a direct interaction with Mr. President on the matter. It would afford him a dignified platform to explain his “brilliant” idea of denying Nigeria fuel reserves now, to solve the current fuel crisis.
Agreed that Tinubu is entitled to his opinion on any issue as a free citizen, but his manner of rendition of the current problem is precisely the source of disquiet. It only reminds of the abiding culture of prominent Nigerians who push their personal agenda, but garb them as public concern.
Tinubu bantered, “ I do this because my greater devotion and love are for this nation and its people. Party and politics fall secondary.”
However, Tinubu must know that Kachikwu is not his appointee and the Buhari Nigerians know would have vented his spleen on him had the comments been considered outlandish. But for Tinubu to go personal to the extent of jibing that nobody forced Kachikwu to take up an appointment with the government is less nobler than his status and it diminishes whatever arguments he must have disseminated in the presumed favour of ordinary Nigerians.
Therefore, Tinubu’s battle is not for the masses of Nigeria, but the suspect pursuit of an ulterior motive. We recall that Before the appointments into his cabinet, President Buhari was allegedly assailed by Tinubu for ministerial compensation by demanding appointments of his key loyalists into five grade “A” ministries, including petroleum.
One virtue no amount of invectives on Kachikwu by Tinubu can dissuade Nigerians against him, is his competence and prudent management of NNPC in the last few months, which has saved the country billions of naira.
Attah is a public affairs commentator based in Abuja