By Clement Obodoshike
SINCE his first appointment into the government of President Muhammed Buhari in the coveted office as GMD of NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu has enjoyed great public recognition and importance. His eventual elevation into the office as Minister of Petroleum has not diminished his standing as the poster boy of PMB’s government in the Petroleum sub-sector. Dr. Kachikwu came with a big reputation having been head hunted from Exxon Mobile petroleum America’s oil Giant Corporation to serve in the APC government.
Dandy in style and eloquent in his communication and mannerism, Dr. Kachikwu has worn his corporate background as a badge of honour. Pumped up the image of himself, he has also often found himself in hot waters. His falling out with this colleague Minister Rotimi Amaechi over the citing and construction of Maritime University was speculated as the final straw that led to his ‘elevation’ to his current ministerial portfolio. His chequered tenure ran into more political hot waters when he fell out with his successor GMD Dr. Maikanti Baru over tendering process. Kachikwu it was thought wrote the memo and leaked it to the press in his power struggle with the GMD. However the thing with the Kachikwu memo was that it appeared the memo he wrote indicted his boss, PMB.
Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu
As the controversy over the appropriateness of his action raged, there was a no small amount of suggestion that he was going to get fired but he stayed. PMB completely ignored the seeming ruckus. Meanwhile, adding to the repertoire of his controversy was his actual political interest in Delta state. What exactly is Kachikwu’s political affiliation? The point is that it is not uncommon to play double game in politics, in which your political interest in the state is markedly different from what you profess in Abuja. In this context can we seriously swear that Kachikwu by all intents and purposes is truly committed to APC Delta state? Many party chieftains including this writer cannot say that he is, despite what he has to say for himself.
As body language goes, Kachikwu appears to have softness for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, PDP Delta state governor, both because he is from the same senatorial zone and perhaps as a friend. It is true that when he was announced as GMD of NNPC, Okowa ever the clever politician rushed to Abuja to thank PMB for his appointment and to assure him of support. That political deftness must have swoon over Kachikwu who found in Okowa a kindred spirit, which if you understand politics and Okowa’s move was to capture the Minister and it has paid off. In truth, Kachikwu’s appointment came as a surprise because in Delta APC, nobody knew of Kachikwu. He neither participated in the election nor did he make any worthwhile contribution in 2015. Meanwhile, there has been a long standing suspicion that Kachikwu was a closet PDP man who was actually rooting for President Jonathan. It was suggested that he even bought vehicles for donation to Jonathan campaign but was not able to do so eventually. Reason for that is unclear.
At issue today however is that as 2019 general election beckons Kachikwu is not yet seizing the moment to show that he has shade his suspicious past of being closet PDP sympathiser for a full throated endorsement of APC. Dr. Kachikwu in defense of himself has often claimed that he has done a lot to support and fund APC in the state. How much of that not many people is certain. It is either he is spending his resources the wrong way or that he is not getting proper advice to do it the right away or that he is hoping that nothing comes out of it paving way for a PDP victory.
As an aside, during the local government election in January which was not a true reflection of political strengths on the ground in the state and Delta north in particular turned up a result which gave APC victory in Kachikwu’s ward, an embarrassing gift that further cemented the suspicion of an accord between Kachikwu and Okowa. After all, how come APC lost across the Senatorial zone but won in Kachikwu’s ward. So with the governorship candidate of APC coming from Delta central an Urhobo area, not many people are counting on Kachikwu’s support for the APC governorship candidate.
Beyond that many people are wondering what is Kachikwu doing to ensure that the poor performance of PMB in 2015 in Delta state and Kachikwu’s senatorial zone is not repeated in 2019. So far nothing has happened. He is missing in action. He is not leading from the front in making PMB strong on the ground in the state. He is not calling meetings or mobilising the party chieftains to ensure that PMB wins in the state. Having got his appointment as a technocrat, Dr. Kachikwu cannot continue to claim indifference of politics. He cannot assert that he is not a politician. That was before he became minister now he has to be a politician. Kachikwu as chairman of Delta state presidential election campaign committee must sit up and work for the victory of PMB, if nothing more as appreciation to the man who has been given an important position and opportunity to be so recognised. As far as 2019 election is concerned, Minister Kachikwu has done nothing to project PMB in Delta state, nothing. This is sad and time is running. Our appeal to him is: ‘ Sir you have a lot of work to do, there is no time to be lost. Start doing something. Atiku in Delta today is more projected than PMB. You have to change this.’