At home, we face enormous challenges. Insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns.
We are going to tackle them head on. Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. — Muhammadu Buhari May 29, 2015.
Nigerians are already regretting entrusting leadership to President Muhammadu Buhari. Although on assumption of office in 2015, he promised to tackle the problem “head on”, Buhari the President will only take secondary seat in the apportioning of blames for the raging fuel scarcity.
But, as you will find out if you read the next few paragraphs, this does not in any wat excuse the man from culpability in the mess. In what we were made to believe was his determination to clean up the notoriously opaque and corrupt oil industry, Buhari refused to appoint a Petroleum Minister, consequently ensuring that while he can escape immediate blame for the farcical goings-on in other ministries, he will be primarily held responsible for the oil ministry’s shortcomings.
This is why this piece is about Muhammadu Buhari the Minister — not Muhammadu Buhari the President. With the benefit of hindsight, Buhari didn’t quite understand the intricacies of the ministry he appointed himself to oversee.
As has already been seen of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Buhari was desperate for power but wasn’t desperate to govern. That is why, for example, it took him six months to appoint ministers. How does a man run the full length of an electioneering cycle without already identifying the core of the people he would work with? At the risk of committing reductionism, Buhari needed to answer two questions that were critical to the continuous availability of petrol:
does the government rehabilitate the refineries or privatise them? And how do we strengthen the purchasing power of marketers, given the weak value of the naira? On the first, Kachikwu, then Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), never hid his belief that the refineries should be sold, as they were working at 30percent capacity. But Buhari overruled him.
Two-and-half years after, what do we have? None of the refineries operates at 60 percent capacity; and all, combined together, only produce 5percent of the country’s daily petrol need of 30million litres/day. So, on the score of raising in- country refining capacity, there has been no progress.