Industry analysts had felt that the official blackout and veiled settlement of the anger that pushed Minister of State, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu to petition President Muhammadu Buhari on dirty deals at NNPC without his involvements, may push the Delta State born Petroleum Engineer and Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu to technically remain silent on issues of national importance bordering on sector and especially the current fuel scarcity.
Recall that at the heat of the crisis, the NNPC came out strongly and strangely to inform Nigerians that by the Act establishing the Corporation, the GMD can only report to the substantive Minister and not Minister of State in official matters. the Corporation’s defence is anchored on the discovery that the Act establishing NNPC only recognizes Minister of petroleum, a portfolio currently occupied by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The reply, further suggested that Kachukwu may have been sieved out of the core activities in the industry he is serving as a Minister.
This would have become real if after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held on Wednesday which mandated Kachukwu and NNPC to resolve the lingering fuel scarcity, the Minister of State fails to speak.
Accordingly, Kachukwu spoke on Thursday, saying NNPC had released two strategic vaults of fuel, directed marketers to augment their sources and thirdly, that security agencies should assist in compelling hoarding stations to sale.
He said special allocation had been ordered for Lagos and Abuja and states with deep shortage and hinted that the situation is already easing.
Business Hilights had argued in an editorial that analysts query the relevance of Kachukwu’s continued stay in the cabinet considering that he has virtually no powers or real roles to play in the ministry in the presence of the President who still doubles, two years after as the substantive Minister of Petroleum.
It would be recalled that President Buhari had told Nigerians in September 2015 when he formed his government that he will serve as the substantive minister for at least 18 months, but more than 25 months, he is still serving the dual functions of both the president and Minister.
Already, radical human rights lawyer and former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olisah Agbakoba two months ago dragged President Buhari to Supreme Court seeking judicial interpretations of the provisions of Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which states clearly that “The President shall not, during his tenure of Office, hold other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever”.
Now, lawyers who explained this provision said there is a clear breach as the post of the minister attracts salary which is paid employment.
However, sensing the possibility of Kachukwu’s cold since the leakage of his petition, the GMD of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru who was in abroad when fuel scarcity started to resurfaced, rushed back home and started addressing issues that will lead to the stability of supplies as the government has ruled out any hike in pump price.