Majority of Nigerians who participated in an opinion have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign as Minister of Petroleum Resources.
The call follows the fuel scarcity that lingered across the country through the festive season and which is still on in some states.
In the poll conducted by PREMIUM TIMES, 66.9 per cent of the 6,739 participants want the president to exit his position as minister.
Two years ago, the president appointed himself as the Minister of Petroleum Resources but named Ibe Kachikwu as the Minister of State for Petroleum.
Mr. Buhari said he took the step to enable him sanitise Nigeria’s oil industry of corruption through massive fraud and crude oil theft. He pledged to rid the industry of corruption and shady deals.
A total of 6,739 participants took part in the online poll which lasted over a week. The poll was conducted in a way that made it impossible for a respondent to vote more than once from the same computer or mobile device.
The participants were asked a single question: “Should Buhari resign as petroleum minister?”
While 66.9 per cent of the respondents (4,508) said Mr. Buhari should resign as petroleum minister, 24.5 per cent (1,650 respondents), said he should not.
About eight per cent of the participants (581 votes) said they don’t care whether or not the president resigns as petroleum minister.
Despite assurances by various government agencies and officials that the current fuel crisis will come to an end, the situation across the country has persisted as the scarcity bites harder.
This made some Nigerians not only experience a bleak Christmas but also forced thousands to sleep in filling stations to purchase the product.
The current fuel scarcity is the third under the All Progressives Party led federal government, with the party pleading with Nigerians to be patient with government’s plans to restore normalcy in the petroleum sector.
The first major fuel scarcity under the administration was between September and December 2015. It witnessed long queues in filling stations while petrol was sold for almost double its usual price leading to an increase in transportation fare.
Another scarcity was in April/May 2016, which led to the fuel price increased by the federal government; from N87 to N145; an act which Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State called “Buhari’s first year anniversary gift to Nigerians.”
BUHARI’S ROLE AS PETROLEUM MINISTER
According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Act, besides exercising general supervision over all operations carried on under the NNPC, another major role of President Buhari as the Minister of Petroleum is to regulate the conservation and measurement of petroleum resources as well as regulate the prices.
The petroleum minister, according to the NNPC Act, is the Chairman of the NNPC. But upon being named Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Kachikwu assumed responsibilities of the Chairman of the Corporation, a development which over time stirred controversy.
In August 2017, Mr. Kachikwu wrote a letter to the president stating that he suffered many humiliating and disrespectful conducts from the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru.
“Parastatals in the ministry and all CEOs of these parastatals must be aligned with the policy drive of the ministry to allow the sector register the growth that has eluded it for many years. To do otherwise or to exempt any of the parastatals would be to emplace a stunted growth for the industry”, he said.
The minister said he was being side-lined in the corporation as decisions were taken and contracts were approved without his consent.
Following the turbulence in the petroleum sector, a former Minister of Education and convener of the Bring Back Our Girls group, Oby Ezekwesili, advised the president to exit his position as petroleum minister. She also called for full deregulation of the sector.
“Dear President .@MBuhari of @AsoRock It is not Rocket Science to FIX the Distortion in the Oil Sector. It is the underlying cause of the annual #FuelScarcity.
“It’s time to LET GO of the “politically beloved petroleum sector”. Sir, the SOLUTION is FULL DEREGULATION. Just. Do. It!
“P @MBuhari, unleash the Productive Incentive that FULL DEREGULATION would bring to the Oil & Gas Sector of our economy immediately. Severe the umbilical cord that has tied up the sector in the knots of Politics. Free that sector NOW. End the poor governance & suffering”, she said.
Similarly, Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, also called on the president to resign as petroleum minister. He advised that another Nigerian of proven integrity and competence be appointed to superintend the affairs of the ministry.
“Having regard to the enormous responsibilities of the office of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and Chairman of the NNPC Board, President Buhari is advised to relinquish the ministerial position in view of his busy schedule and appoint another Nigerian of proven integrity and competence to superintend the affairs of the ministry.
“If this advice is accepted in good faith and acted upon without any delay it would remove undue pressure on the health of the president and allow him to attend to urgent matters of the state,” he said.