By Uchenna Adimonye
”Nigerian President Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) otherwise known as GMB, has made known his intention of heading the Ministry of Petroleum for 18 months, before appointing a substantive Minister for the Ministry. Bearing in mind that we are about 4 months gone, the substantive Minister of petroleum (whoever the lucky chap would be) would be lucky to serve for up to 2 yrs in that position, giving the individual little time to make an impact as developmental planning are usually long term and not short term.
That being said, I believe Muhammadu Buhari’s again has his priorities muddled up. As a retired Major General in the army, a career military officer and a former Military Head of State 1983 – 1985 (via a coup d’etat that toppled the democratic administration of Shehu Shagari), I believe Nigeria would be better served if GMB doubles as Minister of Defence than Petroleum. This argument is more compelling given the fact that Nigeria is in the middle of a vicious war with Boko Haram insurgents in Northern Nigeria. His decades of Military training and experience should come in handy. Hopefully he’s not too old school being that he was forced into retirement in 1985 after his Government suffered another coup d’etat (you can call it karma) 30 years ago.
Some argue that his suitability for Minister of Petroleum is justifiable since he held a similar position in the past. Buhari was appointed Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources from March 1976 – June 1978 under the Gen Olusegun’s Obasnajo Military administration. Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources is today known as Federal Minister of Petroleum, same portfolios and responsibilities, different designation. For the avoidance of doubt, Buhari is a career military officer and not a career oil and gas expert. During the Military era, the Head of State could appoint a classroom secondary school teacher as Minister of Foreign Affairs (no offence to teachers). Nobody in his right senses dare question a Military Head of State, safety first. So if the Military President decides to appoint an individual who is a High School Certificate holder with F in Mathematics, then that is that. HOS pronouncements are law.
I remember during the election campaigns when Buhari said he does not believe in the fuel subsidy scheme in Nigeria and called it a fraud. He also said he would reduce the price of PMS to N40/litre. he is yet to put a stop to this fraud and is also yet to redeem the N40/ltr PMS promise. I know it’s only about 70 days since he assumed power, my friends are always quick to remind me that Buhari is yet to spend 100 days in office, so this time I’ll take the initiative to remind myself. Nevertheless, the simplest of campaign promises which can be fulfilled in less than a month, public declaration of assets, does not need 100 days. Former President Yar’adua (may his soul RIP) declared his assets within 60 days of becoming President.
There’s a civil society group that set up a good looking website to track the campaign promises and policies of President Buhari,www.buharimeter.ng. You may want to find time to go through the site, I think that;s quite innovative. So far not one of his many campaign promises has been kept. (Yes, it’s only 70 days and not 100 days, I remember).
Please do not get me wrong, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vests powers on the President to head any ministry or parastatal of his choice or appoint a representative. But there is a moral burden on Buhari appointing himself Minister of Petroleum. It is indeed a shame that in spite of being a career military officer that Buhari would consider doubling as the Petroleum Minister instead of Defence Minister. Is Buhari more concerned about the wealth from the Niger Delat in the South South region than the security of lives and properties of Nigerians in the North East region? After all Buhari promised to quash Boko Haram in 2 months of assuming Presidency, a promise he has since failed to keep as we are 73 days gone and the Boko Haram battle is still raging. We are still hopeful as he has set a new date of December 2015 to quash those pesky terrorists. We pray he keeps his promises this time and defeats this condemnable monster called Boko Haram.
Finally, I would like to appeal to President Buhari, that should he decide to go ahead with his ill-advised plan of doubling as Minister of Petroleum, that he should be ready to submit himself at all times to summons from our National Assembly whenever he’s invited to explain the Ministry’s policies and actions. This will show humility and would put the interest of the people first.
About Uchenna Adimonye:
He is a Project Engineer and is presently working in the down stream oil and gas sector. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria. Connect with him on Twitter via @Demoore90210.
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