Akin Osuntokun, former Political Adviser to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, has described the letter written by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, to President Muhammadu Buhari on the state of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation as “damning to the Presidency.”
In the letter, the Minister accused the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, of insubordination, and creating a culture of fear in the corporation.
Kachikwu had written the letter after being “unable to secure an appointment” to see the President “despite very many attempts”.
Osuntokun, who spoke about the issue on Channels Television’s “Politics Today”, said the claims by Kachikwu indicated that there was chaos in the government.
He said: “There is an element of being a chaotic or dysfunctional government; that is where offices and individuals are not performing their functions as expected or actually, doing it in a counterproductive way.
“What this (letter) says is very damning on the Presidency – that you cannot see the President (as a minister). He (Kachikwu) wrote this letter in August and before he wrote that letter, maybe for some months he had been waiting to see the President but he could not see him to brief him on such an important segment, the most crucial economic anchor of the country.”
It is not the first time officials of the current administration have been at loggerheads.
This, according to Mr Osuntokun who is also a former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria is why the problem at the NNPC cannot be treated in isolation.
“If it is an isolated instance, you can overlook it although this is bad enough. But also look at the case of the Acting Chairman of the EFCC that is perennially at the Senate, where an appointee of the President, the DG SSS, writes against the nomination made by the President himself. So when you take all these together, the picture that you will see is chaos,” he said.
With the debate raging on over who is wrong or what the President should do, the Senate has decided to probe the allegations against the NNPC boss. It took the decision during plenary on Wednesday.
For Osunkotun, there are many questions that need answers, including why President Buhari removed Kachikwu as NNPC GMD after appointing him to the role in the first case and why he is having a tough time getting clearance to see the President who doubles as Minister of Petroleum with Kachikwu as the junior minister in that ministry.
The former presidential adviser believes that the President’s recent health challenges are partly responsible for the “chaos”.
“There is a part explanation for that which is open to the public and that is the physical indisposition of the President, especially in the past one year,” he said.
“For the better part of the past one year he has not been at his desk and even when he is at home – I am just speaking factually – we know that he is not performing at the peak of his health; this is what we read in the newspapers, (that) he may not be able to attend council meetings and so on and so forth. But it can be better managed.”