*He should resign — S-South APC
*No, he has been prudent — S-East APC
*Babatope, Tsav, Aluko, Odumakin, others react
By Clifford Ndujihe, Kingsley Omonobi, Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu, Gbenga Oke, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Mike Eboh, Omeiza Ajayi, Rotimi Ojomoyela & Tare Youdeowei
LAGOS—THE ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, was literally divided, yesterday, over whether or not Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, should retain his prime position in the APC-led Federal Government on account of the worsening fuel scarcity and his comments that he is not a magician.
While the National Vice Chairman of the APC, South South wants Kachikwu to resign immediately, the South-East chapter of the party thinks otherwise.
This is coming as mixed reactions greeted APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s, blasting of Kachikwu, weekend, on the issue. ‘’Kachikwu’s flippancy was out of line. He was basically telling Nigerians that they should be lucky that they are getting the inadequate supply they now suffer,’’ Tinubu spat.
Resign now, APC National tells Kachikwu
Peeved by his recent outburst that Nigerians should be grateful to the government that they could still get some fuel, the APC asked the minister to honourably resign his position from the President Muhammadu Buhari’s led government since he seemed incapable of doing his part by efficiently running the ministry assigned to him and providing workable solution to the current fuel scarcity in the country.
The party also said it was time Kachikwu descended from “his high horse to face squarely the duties required of him by his office, as responsibility to the people is one of the cardinal points of the APC, which he professes membership.”
The party said it aligned itself with Tinubu who had, weekend, taken on the minister for his outburst.
In a statement in Abuja, the APC National Vice Chairman, South-south, Prince Hilliard Eta, said “Kachikwu has not entirely cast off the orientation of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP where he was”, adding that such is still manifesting in his actions and utterances such as the recent one that attracted opprobrium from many Nigerians.
“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”.
While denying that there was any major rift in the party, APC said: “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 rests.
“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, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to order owing to the anti progressive statements he made in the Presidential Villa on Wednesday March 23, 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 that government is meant to serve.
“From this perspective, it is, therefore, understandable that Kachikwu’s statement to the effect 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 seen as irresponsible for an elder to watch a youngsters or an inexpensive person blunder without immediately calling him to order. ”
We don’t subscribe to resignation calls – South-East APC
However, the South-East chapter of the APC, in a statement by its Spokesman, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, said the zone was against calls for Kachikwu’s resigantion.
It said: ‘’Whereas, our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was not only politically correct but has the constitutional right to condemn the awkward joke made by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, over the national embarrassment caused our great country by the ugly fuel supply chain logjam; however, the South East Zone of the APC does 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 country over N500 billion.
‘’May we also remind those who call for his resignation, how the 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 importation and fuel supply chain in the last 10 months.’’
APC is trying to play on our intelligence — Babatope
Reacting to the development, a member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said that the APC was trying to play on the intelligence of Nigerians.
“The APC cannot continue to play on the intelligence of Nigerians when majority of Nigerians are feeling pains and cannot move from one place to another. Nigerians are feeling pains by the day; instead of Tinubu and Kachukwu to sit with the President and discuss on how to settle the economic hardships Nigerians are facing, they are busy throwing tantrums at each other while Nigerians continue suffering. What is happening right now goes beyond party politics, we should all sit down and solve the basic problems the country is suffering instead of trading blames on the pages of newspapers,” he said.
Tinubu stated the obvious—Odumakin
National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin said Tinubu stated the obvious, adding: ‘’I think there was a bit of arrogance on the part of the Minister when he told the nation that he was not a miracle worker. He should not have said that to the nation and I think that is arrogance, selfish and a state of wanton impunity. He is expected to serve us and not to boss over us. I think the Tinubu’s letter has really shown the disunity within the APC. If the APC is really a party that is in power and they have means of discussing within themselves, I guess that such letter would have been discussed within their party before going on the pages of newspapers.”
I agree with Tinubu—Aluko
Also throwing his weight behind the APC leader, immediate past Vice Chancellor of Federal University, Otuoke, Professor Bolaji Aluko said: “I identify with Bola Ahmed Tinubu here, while understanding Kachikwu’s plight. I have complained about the necessity of President Buhari to rein in any creeping mandarins in his cabinet – Education Minister Adamu Adamu was one early example with the VCs palaver, which remains un-resolved – and Kachikwu’s “I-am-no-magician-and-you-are-lucky-to-have-me” statement is another one that Tinubu has rightfully shot down.
“There is no doubt that Kachikwu has been hard at work and on his desk, a job that has both serious domestic and international dimensions. He is clearly technically competent, but he merely needs to tweak his socio-political antennas, and think a little more deeply.’’
‘Kachikwu has created widespread disenchantment in NNPC’
A source in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, yesterday, said the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, has created widespread disenchantment in the NNPC and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, saying this is a major contributory factor to the fuel crisis witnessed across the country.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also stated that it would be foolhardy for K achikwu to reply Tinubu especially at this time when fuel is still scarce.
He did nothing wrong—Tsav
Defending Kachikwu, former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav said: “Tinubu should not use the issue to score political points or get credits because Kachikwu as the minister said the obvious. I did not see any where that Kachikwu insulted Nigerians or erred by telling Nigerians the true situation of the fuel crisis. Issues like this should not be politicised because Kachikwu did nothing wrong.
“Kachikwu said the truth. He is the one running the NNPC and understands the situation there. He knows what they have on ground and the circumstances we found ourselves.”
Tinubu spoke the truth—Osinkolu
However, a chieftain of the APC, Olusegun Osinkolu disagreed with Tsav and argued that Tinubu was right to have cautioned the Minister.
Osinkolu, who said Tinubu’s statement should not be misinterpreted to mean existence of crack within the ruling party, maintained that the remarks were in the best interest of Nigerians and the APC-led government. Speaking in Ayede Ekiti, Osinkolu dismissed the insinuation that Kachikwu is not competent to handle the Ministry, saying the Minister spoke as a technocrat and not as a politician.Osinkolu dismissed the insinuation that Kachikwu is not competent to handle the ministry, saying the minister spoke as a technocrat and not as a politician.
Niger Delta group
Rising in defence of the minister, Niger Delta Indigenous Movement For Radical Change, NDIMRC, urged Nigerians to be patient with Kachikwu over the lingering fuel crisis the country, saying President Buhari never made a mistake in his appointment. NDIMRC, an oil monitoring group, in a statement by its President, Nelly Emma, Secretary, John Sailor and Public Relations Officer, Stanley Mukoro, said the minister never put a time frame of May ending to arrest the situation, describing it as misinterpretation.
It said: “The minister only said that the solution to the fuel crisis is a gradual process and as an oil monitoring group, we want to appeal to Nigerians to bear with Dr. Kachikwu over the lingering fuel scarcity.
“The minister has apologised to Nigerians over the worrisome situation and we want to implore Nigerians to be patient with the minister, who is capable of handling the fuel scarcity once and for all.”
‘Kachikwu working against Buhari’s govt’
Former, member of the House of Representatives, Halims Agoda, accused Kachikwu of sabotaging the efforts of President Buhari to restructure the petroleum sector and backed calls for his resignation.
In a statement in Abuja yesterday, Agoda said the minister’s recent remark of not being a “magician” to immediately end the queues at filling stations was not necessary.
Agoda asked the minister to resign if he could not end the lingering fuel crisis.
Tinubu trying to redeem APC—Okorie
The member representing Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo Federal Constituency of Ebonyi State in the House of Representatives, Linus Okorie, faulted Tinubu’s attack on Kachikwu.
Okorie, who is Chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institutions, in a statement, said that Tinubu derailed along the line by using the attack as a platform to blame Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and shore up his party’s image instead of a genuine concern for the people.
According to him, the APC leader should take part of the blame for the failure of his party to fulfil their promises to Nigerians, instead of dwelling on excuses or looking for a scapegoat. He said:
“Tinubu mysteriously derailed from this ennobling track for no sensible reason than, probably, an urge to redeem some modicum of public respect and confidence for APC.
“The party has evidently lost more political capital through a consistent display of planlessness and crass incompetence than even its extreme opponents could have contemplated, a few short months ago. “Tinubu did this by attempting a weak and non-contextual connection of PDP to the “undemocratic excesses” of a rapidly evolving “fascist regime” of APC.
“APC has a responsibility to deliver on its over 3,000 promises to Nigerians and would do well to keep its eye on the ball than this compulsive and overburdened recline into the past.”