The Presidency yesterday rose in stout defence of Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu who at the weekend came under scathing criticism by the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu over comments relating to the current fuel scarcity across the federation.
Kachikwu, who is also the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was reported to have said that he could not perform magic in solving the problem of fuel scarcity , a statement Tinubu considered insensitive and insulting to the sensibilities of Nigerians.
But the Presidency yesterday rose in defence of Kachikwu , saying the minister was speaking the truth when he said that Nigerians would have to wait till May for the scarcity to go away. Presidential spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina on Channels Television programme: “Sunday Politics,” yesterday said the minister should not be crucified for telling Nigerians the truth.
He pointed out that Nigerians were unhappy with the statement credited to the minister because they wanted him to perform magic which would make the commodity readily available in two weeks. Adesina, however, stressed that the truth which Nigerians should accept was that it would take weeks before the scarcity would go away.
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, Mr. Uzoma Nkem- Abonta has upbraided Tinubu for his criticism of Kachikwu over the handling of the energy crises in the polity. In an interview with The Guardian, Nkem -Abonta wondered why Tinubu chose to meddle in the affairs of the Petroleum Minister with a presidential mandate to fix the problem in the sector.
The lawmaker who represents Ukwa East/West Federal Constituency of Abia State enjoined Tinubu not to reduce a sensitive issue relating to the management of the petroleum sector into an APC affair. A member of the APC’s Board of Trustees (BOT) from the South West, Jamiu Afolabi Ekungba told The Guardian yesterday that the chastisement:
“shows that we are operating a progressive democratic government where what is important to everybody is that whatever any of the segments of government is doing is beneficial to everybody. It also shows that the APC is not a cult where things are done in secret while the country, like it was under the previous government, was being destroyed.”
Also reacting, former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said: “From my understanding, Tinubu is a leader in the party and by that, he has every right to speak out if he discovered anything that may likely erode the credibility of the party before the electorate.”
To erstwhile Minister of Transport and a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope:
“I am not bothered by whatever any of them says about the other. What is important is the fact that Nigerians are really suffering.”
In his reaction, a chieftain of the APC in Ekiti State, Olusegun Osinkolu, praised Tinubu for the action, saying it was in the best interest of Nigerians and the APC-led government.
Speaking in defence of Kachikwu, one-time Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said Nigerians abhor the truth. Okupe on his Facebook account wrote:
“The minister of State for Petroleum is a Nigerian I know by reputation only. When he was appointed I actually wondered why on earth will a man in his exalted international position and pedigree come into the murky arena of the Nigerian oil business. It can only be patriotism.”
Toeing the same line, an APC chieftain, Osita Okechukwu, while conceding that Tinubu had the constitutional right to criticise, however, added that the South East zone of the party did not subscribe to the call for his resignation.
Speaking in the same vein, the vice chairman, South-South of the PDP, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, said no one should castigate the minister of state because he had only exhibited courage in telling Nigerians the truth.