Fuel scarcity: Kachikwu’s remarks cast negative outlook on economy

Hector Igbikiowubo

29 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Lagos –  As the impact of fuel scarcity bites harder across Nigeria taking its toll on hapless Nigerians forced to grapple with poor power supply and the impact of the dwindling value of the Naira among other negative variables, indications are that the remarks credited to Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum resources may have contributed to the growing negative outlook on the economy.

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Dr. Kachikwu

Dr. Kachikwu had while speaking with state House correspondents on the issue of lingering fuel scarcity said he was not a magician and could not eliminate fuel queues with a magic wand.

“One of the training I did not receive is that of a magician, but I am working very hard to ensure some of these issues go away.
“For the five or six months we have been here, NNPC has moved from a 50 per cent importer of products to basically a 100 per cent importer and the 445,000 barrels per day that were allocated were to cover between 50 and 55 per cent importation.
“It is quite frankly by sheer magic that we even have the amount of products at the stations. We are looking to see how to get foreign exchange input; the President and I discussed extensively on how to get more crude oil directed at importation,” he said.
However, while reacting to the minister’s remarks Mr. Tonye Smiths, an Economist and financial consultant based in the United Kingdom decried it as lacking in sensitivity, noting that it has worsened Nigeria’s negative economic outlook.
“One day of fuel scarcity is bad enough on the economic growth outlook of any nation. But when a minister who occupies a portfolio like Dr. Kachikwu does makes such a submission, it becomes an important tool for measuring and determining what part of the scale the growth variable favours.
“In this instance, I can tell you that Dr. Kachikwu’s remarks may have deepened the negative growth outlook for the Nigerian economy. Cabinet rank ministers have to be careful with their remarks,” Mr. Smiths volunteered.
One of the national dailies also quoted the President of the Trade Union Congress, Mr. Bala Kaigama calling on Dr. Kachikwu to resign over the remarks credited to him.
“If he is not a magician, he should resign now. What we are saying is that Nigerians are getting impatient with him. If he has no quick fix to it, he should just quit. We are getting impatient. He is moving from one unpopular policy to another, yet we cannot see any quick fix.’’
Also speaking, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, the General Secretary of the NLC decried the remarks credited to Dr. Kachikwu, adding that it was his responsibility to ensure the removal of the factors responsible for the current queues at filling stations across the country.
 “The cost of these protracted queues on an economy that is already in crisis is enormous, and actually makes the issue of the revival of the economy even more difficult.”
In a 10-paragraph statement released at the weekend titled; ‘kachikwu needs to know that respect and good performance will do what magic cannot’, the national leader of the All Progressive Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu described the minister of state’s remarks as flippant and out of line.
“Kachikwu’s flippancy was out of line. He was basically telling Nigerians that they should be lucky that they are getting the inadequate supply they now suffer and they should just be quiet and endure the shortage for several weeks more.
“Kachikwu’s intervention was unhelpful. It panicked and disappointed the public as to the duration of the crises. It insulted the people by its tonality. He spoke with the imperious nature of the member of the elitist government the people voted out last year and not the progressive one they voted in. Kachikwu must be reminded that he was not coerced to take this job. He accepted the job and its responsibilities knowingly,” the Asiwaju upbraided the minister of state.
In another reaction Mr. John Owubokiri, a Port Harcourt based legal luminary and public affairs commentator said ‘Dr. Kachikwu’s comments and pessimism about fuel queues reflect more than his ineptitude in the office he occupies’.
“It appears to me to be the standard of a government that came to power preaching change without articulating the set of policies and measures that would constitute the change. If Kachikwu needs a magic wand to stabilise fuel supply, he should not be in government at all,” Mr. Owubokiri enthused.
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