• Takes exception to minister’s ‘I’m not a magician’ comment
• Says respect, good performance will do what magic can’t do
National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday ruled the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, out of order for saying he should not be expected to conjure magic in resolving the current fuel crisis in the country.
He said the minister strayed from the progressive calling required of the Buhari administration by making the statement attributed to him.
Kachikwu who doubles as Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had said, in reaction to public criticism of his handling of the fuel scarcity, that Nigerians should count themselves fortunate that the NNPC under his stewardship has been able to bring in the amount of fuel it is currently doing.
Tinubu, in a statement, threw in his lot with Nigerians who, according to him, were “as right to feel insulted as the minister was wrong to have said such a thing.”
He said those charged with the responsibility of running the affairs of the country should learn to do things creatively and away from past practices.
His words: “The art of governance is difficult and complex, especially during trying times. The steep reduction in global oil prices from over 100 dollars per barrel to roughly 40 presents a hard challenge. “We can no longer afford past practices. Nigeria now requires creative reform, materially changing the substance of national economic policy as well as the objectives of that policy and how the policy is presented to the people. Therein lies the essence of progressive democratic governance.
“The Buhari administration represents the last best hope we have to install such governance in Nigeria and avert the catastrophe that would have befallen us had the prior government remained in place. Had the nation continued with the spendthrift corruption and vagabond economic policies of that administration, we would have soon experienced such a collision with the harsh consequences of that government’s malign ways that our very institutions of government may have been distorted beyond fixture and repair.”
Asiwaju Tinubu added, “In this effort, there may be no economic matter more difficult to unravel and more sensitive to the purse of the average person than the current fuel scarcity. Even here I am confident of progress because I know the commitment of the president to resolving this matter. I make no attempt to hide it. I am an avid and partisan supporter of this government and of the progressive policies of the party, the APC, upon which this government is based.
“With that I do reserve the right and the duty as a Nigerian to voice my opinion when I believe a member of this government has strayed from the progressive calling required of this administration. I do this because my greater devotion and love are for this nation and its people. Party and politics fall secondary.
“Much public ire has been drawn to the statement made by Minister of State (Ibe Kachikwu) that he was not trained as a magician and that basically Nigerians should count themselves fortunate that the NNPC under his stewardship has been able to bring in the amount of petrol fuel it is currently doing.
“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. The remark did not sit well with the Nigerian people; they were as right to feel insulted as the minister was wrong to have said such a thing.
“The fuel shortage is severely biting for the average person. They are forced to remain in lines far too long, for too much time, to pay too much money for too little fuel. This is no joking matter. Livelihoods and people’s welfare are at stake. With so much on the line, 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 and that they should just be quiet, and endure the shortage for several weeks more.
“Kachikwu’s intervention was unhelpful. It panicked and disappointed the public as to the duration of the crisis. It insulted the people by its tonality. He spoke with the imperious nature of a member of the elitist government the people voted out last year and not the progressive one they voted in.”
He reminded the minister “that he was not coerced to take this job. He accepted the job and its responsibilities knowingly. He also must remember that he does not own NNPC. This also is not a private company that owes nothing to the public except the duty of fair dealing. He is a public servant. The seat he sits upon is owned by Nigerians not by him. The company he runs is owned by Nigerians not by him. They are his boss. He is not theirs. Power is vested in the people. He is a mere custodian or agent of their will. In talking to us in such a manner, he committed an act of insubordination.
“If he had talked so cavalierly to his boss in the private sector, he would have been reprimanded or worse. If wise, the man should refrain from such interjections in the future.”
In defending and asserting the rights of Nigerians to complain, Tinubu averred that “As his ultimate bosses, the people have a right to demand the requisite performance and respect from him. He should apologise for treating them so lightly in this instance. His portfolio being a strategically important one, he needs to reestablish the correct relationship with the public. They no longer feel he is working for their optimal benefit as their servant. Instead, he seems to be standing above them, telling them to take it or leave it.
“For his policies and stint in office to be successful and a help to this government, he must have the support and belief of the people at this tough time. He must talk to them in a way that they believe he seeks their best interest and understands the hardship weighing upon them. He must ask them to work with him and perhaps to endure a bit longer but with the knowledge that he is working to resolve this matter as fast as he can and as permanently as possible. That he is dedicated to the position that once these current lines are gone that never again shall they reappear as long as he has any influence in the matter.
“To do this, requires no magic nor training in that strange craft. It requires empathy, compassion and the willpower to forge a better Nigeria. These must be the common trademarks of those serving in a progressive government for these attributes are integral parts of the spirit and ideals upon which the APC was founded. Upon such notions was this administration voted into office by the Nigerian people in the operation of their sovereign will to seek a national leadership that would pursue their interests to the utmost and give them every fair chance to live in a better Nigeria.
“Even though times are hard we must all realise that they would be even harder and much darker would be the immediate horizon had we allowed the venal, kleptocracy of the PDP to continue to lord over the land solely for their selfish benefit and not for the common good.
“I am confident that President Buhari and this government can resolve the issues that press us. From establishing full security and safety to staking a claim to true economic prosperity and fairness, this government shall salvage our national pride and purpose,” Tinubu concluded.