Nature doesn’t use a one-size-fits-all approach; if it did, the prayers and hopes of Dr Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, to be retained in his position in the next administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would come to fruition. The reappointment of Godwin Emefiele for another term of five years as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has further heightened this aspiration.
Anybody in his shoes would hope so too considering that unlike Emefiele, Kachikwu’s initial appointment as the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, was greeted with widespread appreciation and acceptance. When he was later elevated to his current post, Nigerians unanimously thought he was a round peg in a round hole, a perfect fit for the porous petroleum ministry.
While Kachikwu may have succeeded in virtually stamping out fuel scarcity from the lexicography of Nigerians, he may not have had it smooth running the ministry considering that President Buhari holds the substantive position of minister. Also, he was involved in a superiority battle with Dr Maikanti Baru, GMD of the NNPC. Like the proverbial cat and mouse, there is no love lost between the two eggheads.
Not too long ago, Kachikwu and Baru had a bitter falling out which climaxed with the leak of a memo he wrote to the President accusing Baru of among other things, insubordination and sharp practices, especially the unilateral award of a $25billion contract. Baru did not suffer fools gladly and he fired back with the same venom, saying the allegation was baseless and that he was answerable to the President and the Minister of Petroleum, not the Minister of State. Before the presidency waded in to thaw the ice, Nigerians had been fed with dirty details of happenings within the petroleum industry.
On the surface, both men are back on level terms but those who know say given a choice between them, Baru is far more preferred within the president’s inner circle to take over the position of Minister of Petroleum Resources which the president reportedly plans to relinquish. And which Kachikwu is not only eyeing but has been tapping his local and international contacts and connections to nick.
The reappointment of Emefiele has further emboldened him to dare and hope. He probably is oblivious to the reports that while Emefiele has been good to members of the president’s family, such accolades are not accorded him despite superintending over an acknowledged juicy ministry. But will he be as fortunate as Emefiele? The next few weeks would tell.