Serving over 160 million people with differing emotions, interest and ideas can be very tasking, especially when you sit on the most lucrative and by far the pivotal ministry in Nigeria – the petroleum ministry.
That is what Mr. Ibe Kachikwu has to deal with now, though he is the junior minster but since the minister is the president himself, Mr Kachikwu has to face the heat.
He has to deal with frustrations of car owners who cannot get Premium Motor Spirit PMS for their cars. Small business owners – barbers, hair dressers, shop owners etc., who cannot get the product to power their small generators because power supply is also not available. Not to mention commuters who had to trek long distances, after waiting for hours at Bus Stops for buses that are stuck at the service stations.
To face these suffering masses, Ibe Kachikwu knew they need to know the truth, though bitter because the prognosis before him is not what anyone in the situation we found ourselves want to hear.
With all these weight on his shoulder, as a true professional Mr. Kachikwu analyzed the situation, consulted with his boss (I mean the real Petroleum minister) the president and stakeholders in the industry.
On 23rd of March 2016, after leading a delegation of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria PENGASSAN, and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers to meet with the president at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. He told the State House correspondents that, despite the efforts being put in place by the Federal Government, fuel queues might not be completely eliminated until about two months (May).
The Minister noted that with the reality on the ground, it was by sheer magic that the country had the amount of products it currently had at the filling stations.
When pressed further on ending the long queue of motorists at service stations, the minister said since he was not a magician, the fuel queues could not be eliminated with a magic wand.
These were the statement credited to the then ‘unprogressive’ Ibe Kachikwu.
After the statement, all hell broke loose, he was branded insensitive, many words were used to describe him but one that caught my interest was the one used by the grand master of ‘progressives’ and the acclaimed national leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Tinubu in a statement released in response to Kachikwu’s statement on Saturday 27th March, 2016, said that the minister “has strayed from the progressive calling required of this administration.” He went further to call for his resignation.
Some group though, defended the minister insisting that he was stating the fact based on what is on ground.
However, on Tuesday 30th of March, 2016, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, ‘changed’ became a ‘progressive’ and apologised to Nigerians for his comment on the nationwide fuel shortages, adding that enough measures had been put in place to end them by next week.
He went further to assure that, even though a two-week target had been set to end the scarcity of fuel, he was working assiduously to ensure that between April 5th and 7th, the lingering queues would have largely disappeared.
Unlike the first statement, the later kind of calmed nerves, I even believed it, thinking okay, they have now done something, the scarcity will soon be over.
Today is 12th April 2016, now I ask has queue disappeared? What is the progressive calling that Kachikwu strayed from?
Which Kachikwu do you prefer? The unprogressive Kachikwu that told you the truth though it is bitter or the changed ‘progressive’ Kachikwu who looked you straight in the eye and told you, that there is a ‘magic wand’ and in one week the scarcity will be over!
By Oruruo Samuel, O., AfricanQuarters, follow Sam on twitter @Quest4sam