By Ibrahim Audu
ONE thing that is certain about the memo to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Minister of Petroleum Resources is that only a few people would clearly understand its message.
With an entrenched, parochial and clannish disposition to virtually every national discourse, made more manifest in a climate of constantly clashing political and economic interests, many are already lost as to what the letter resonates.
But doing so could not be said to be the fault of those in that category, given the deep-seated ethno-religious solidarity in the country.
Notwithstanding, the historical balkanisation of the country by that kind of national psyche presupposes that the fundamental substance of the petition would have found full expression among Nigerians.
Rather, most conversations offline and online typically toe the Nigerian path of reducing critical national issues to an ethnic debate. Through that, the narrative is always being changed thereby shifting attention from the real issues while needlessly focussing on the mundane.
While the missive in its entirety may not have been free of a few contentious points with ethnic colouration, we can safely assert that the memo was rather a demand for decisive leadership.
Consistently, Nigerians have been treated to embarassing conflicts of intrest among senior political appointees and their surbordinates at the expense of the President’s change agenda.
Indeed, the matter does not exist in isolation as the nation had witnessed near similar issues between the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Ameachi, and Ministe r of State for Aviation, Sen Hadi Sirika; Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and Comptroller General of Customs, Col Ahmad Ali, retd; and the latter and the Senate and among others.
These instances underscore what obsevers term the obvious absence of synergy among various organs of government in this dispensation. It further raises questions about the existence of coporate governance.
And the implication is that the President’s good intentions for the country are now being frontally challenged by what is considered self-serving interests of a few.
Also, it is believed that the failure to rein-in some individuals during similar scenarios that preceded this, accentuated the trend.
Wether Kachikwu or the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, is right or wrong, does not seem to matter to many. What counts now is the exigency in purposefully rising up against the trend.
And the onus is on the President on whose table the buck stops to rein-in these individuals and ensure that his dream of transforming a decriept nation is not fruitfuless.
That is why the latest case is seen as an opportunity for the nation’s leadership to puncture claims that it is institutionalising official silence on critical state matters; just as the charge, rightly or wrongly, that nepotism is walking on four legs needs to be quashed.
The fact that psycofancy is a thriving industry in the country, might not allow the urgency of this to resonate fully.
But analysts consider this a critical juncture and opportunity for an administration accussed of struggling with the key parameters of its agenda to dissapoint cynics.
Hence, the growing consensus on the exigency in defeating this culture of divisiveness and disorder threatning the President’s good dreams.
There is no other institution that can stop the trend than the Presidency given its sweeping constitutional supervisory roles.
After all, in the final analysis, the Buhari Presidency would be the focal point, not the roles of his appointees in their respective capacities.
However, for the sake of clarity, consider Kachikwu’s memo that brought the growing clash of interests among appointees:
The Minister of State said:”Mr. President, yesterday, like many other Nigerians, l resumed work confronted by many publications of massive changes within NNPC. Like the previous reorganisations and repostings done since Dr. Baru resumed as GMD, I was never given the opportunity before the announcements to discuss these appointments. This is so despite being Minister of State, Petroleum, and Chairman, NNPC Board. The Boa rd of NNPC, which you appointed and, which has met every month since its inauguration and, which by the statutes of NNPC is meant to review these planned appointments and postings, was never briefed.
“Members of the Board learned of these appointments from the social media and the press release of NNPC.
“However, truth is that given the global challenge in this sector, we must aggressively pursue out-of- the-box ideas on rejuvenating this sector, getting the best yield and increasing our earnings from oil and gas. “What this means is that parastatals in the Ministry and all CEOS of these parastatals must be aligned with the policy drive of the supervising Ministry to allow the sector register the growth that has eluded it for many years.
“To do otherwise or to exempt any of the Parastatals would be to emplace a stunted growth for the industry.”
Oversight regulatory mandate
His other prayers to Buhari include: “That you save the office of the Minister of State from further humiliation and disrespect by compelling all parastatals to submit to oversight regulatory mandate and proper supervision which I am supposed to manage on your behalf. “You kindly instr uct the GMD to effectively leave NNPC to run as a proper institution and report along due process lines to the Board and that Your Excellency instructs that all reviews be done with the Minister of State prior to your decision. “That to set the right examples, you approve that the recently announced reorganisation changes be suspended until the GMD, myself and the board have made relevant input to same. This will send a clear signal of process and transparency.
“That Your Excellency encourages joint presentation meetings between heads of Parastatals and the Minister of State to you so as to encourage a culture of working together and Implant discipline in the hierarchy.”
In any case, Kachikwu appears to be pursuing an exclusionist agenda, nor, from the deeper tone of the memo, seeking to cause the exit of the GMD.
In my view, what appears to be his bigger concern seem tied to the fortunes of Nigeria in a global and competitive context.
Whereas many an observer would not be able to read between the lines, there is an urgent need to engage a paradigm shift in the nation’s governance processes.