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Lukman: Time to go sir

“You’ve had your share of mirth, of meat and drink. It’s time to quit the scene”.

Once in a rural area of Bulgaria, the inhabitants noticed that horses disappeared from barnyards, goats got missing and chicken stock was reduced every time a particular fellow masquerading as a general labourer came to the community. It didn’t take the simple folks long to determine who was the cause of their problems.

Last week, one of Nigeria’s enduring problems and a staunch member of the cabal holding Nigeria by the jugular, Dr Rilwan Lukman, the Minister of Petroleum, made a startling announcement – he threatened to sack the top executives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC if the fuel scarcity problem is not solved in seven days.

Nothing more comical had been said by a minster since the Minister of Power announced the 6000 MW of power supply by December 2009. At least, young Engineer Babalola can be forgiven as a novice minister for not knowing what he was talking about. But, Alhaji Lukman has been in the petroleum sector since the 1970s; at least three times as Minister (as he is now) and at other times as Special Adviser to the President or Head of State. In fact, he is the only recurring person in the oil sector which symbolizes the failure of the Nigerian nation till today.

Anywhere else in the world, except in Banana Republics to which category we may belong, nobody so connected with a generation long span of failures will be allowed near power. Not Nigeria. The man was actually begged by our, now comatose, President to come and take the job – despite strong objections by large segments of society who were aware of the man’s abysmal records.

But, as late Walter Lippmann, the dean of American journalists, had said in the 1970s, “it requires wisdom to understand wisdom..” (Vanguard Book of Quotations p.275). The man who appointed him Minister did not even know that “Men of ordinary physique cannot be presidents and live” according to U.S President Woodrow Wilson, 1856-1924. The man who was vainglorious enough to allow a scheming Obasanjo to lure him into the presidential race was not even a man who could be described as one with “ordinary physique”. He was a medical wreck.

It was therefore not surprising that he would select for one of the most sensitive jobs in government, as Minister of Petroleum, another ruin from our inglorious past. And just as predicted by those who have a firm grip on the history of our republic, Lukman has not failed to disappoint us. As always, we have had another long stretch of fuel scarcity under his watch as minster.

Instead of fixing the problems and ensuring that fuel flows, as it does in all other oil producing countries, the minster has chosen to pass the blame to the victims of his inadequacies – the NNPC Directors, Managers and staff. And he has done it in the most comical way imaginable; he announced the sack of all the top staff as if he alone could make the decision and as if he had a ready supply of people who could step in right away and turn the place around.

The sad thing is, Lukman knows a lot of uncomfortable truths about the NNPC which make his threat a hollow one. I will list a few, some of which are already in the public domain and some of which are the product of my continued research into why fuel scarcity has become an intractable problem in Nigeria and why we have it now….
To be continued….


“All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies”.
Dr John Abuthnot, 1667-1733
Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945, the late German Chancellor, and the acclaimed villain of the Second World War, once boasted at the height of his early triumphs that “the Nazi Revolution will last a thousand years”. Less than two years after, both Hitler and the Nazi Party he headed were in the graveyard of history.

In Nigeria, while the third term madness was still a possibility, the former Chairman of the PDP, Colonel Ali (rtd), (reminds me of “Chemical Ali of recent memory) also boasted that the PDP would rule for 100 years. Well, Anenih has been put to pasture less than two years after his silly utterances. Then came Ogbuluafor, a failed gubernatorial candidate picked out of the dustbin of political oblivion to head PDP.

Lacking anything substantial to say, he too boasted, as if he were God, that the PDP will last for 60 years; at the time with Yar’Adua presumably serving eight of those 60. Well, for starters, Yar’Adua appears unlikely to serve even four full years—talk less of eight. And the PDP has just received a shellacking it would not forget in Anambra –shortly after defeats in Edo and Ondo. “Mr Fix-it” is in a fix himself at home. God indeed moves in mysterious ways.

Ordinarily, the party would have been able to shrug off those defeats as minor incidents. But, at the moment, the party which I once described as a political machine and “a conspiracy to gain power” is now is so much disarray without the “moral” leadership provided by Dr Alex Ekwueme and the G-34, when it was first started as an all-embracing political party or the “garrison commanders” headed by Obasanjo who took over from 1999 to 2007.

Even Obasanjo, as Chairman of Board of Trustees, BOT, is discovering that outside Aso Rock, and shorn of presidential power, he is a toothless lion. Yet, for a political machine to survive, it must have either moral suasion or raw power on its side. Today PDP lacks both. In fact, the symbols of the PDP, right now, are a man lying helplessly somewhere in Saudi and another standing bewildered in Abuja not knowing whether to step up or return home to Bayelsa as well as legislators at each others throats.

..Is it proper for the Senate just to RESOLVE that VP Jonathan perform as “Acting President” without a formal swearing in to give legal teeth to his actions?”.
C. Onuchukwu, Lagos.

Late Arthur Burns, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States (equivalent to our CBN Governor) once said, “Allow a situation to go bad for too long and suddenly there are no good solutions left”. He was of course referring to the economic downturn in those years. But history would suggest that the observation applies to any situation – political, health, marriage, social etc – in which people find themselves.

To be quite candid, not being a lawyer and after reading what various lawyers have said about the senate action, I don’t really know. This is one of those matters on which the majority might not even be right. What has been done is certainly expedient but whether it is constitutional or not will eventually be determined by the courts because there is little doubt in my mind that the action will be challenged. Yar’Adua is to blame.


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